On Wednesday, Donald Trump openly threatened special counsel Robert Mueller during an interview with The New York Times, bringing us to death's door as a country of laws:
When asked if Robert Mueller would be crossing a “red line” by investigating Trump’s personal finances, the President adamantly defended his business dealings in a meandering interview with the New York Times.“
I think that’s a violation. Look, this is about Russia,” Trump said Wednesday, then appearing to dare Mueller to try examining his financial filings.
The problem for Trump is that his finance's are part of the Russia probe and he has no one else to blame but himself for that reality. Because Trump refused to release his taxes like every presidential candidate (except Bernie Sanders) has for the last 50 years, Mueller will have no choice but to look into them to see if Trump being in a compromised position is what led him to obstruct justice. Just the mere suggestion that he will have Mueller fired for doing this is, itself, an attempt to obstruct justice and it's clear Trump will not stop with a warning.
And as of 10:30 Thursday morning, Muller is officially looking into Trump's business dealings:
FBI investigators and others are looking at Russian purchases of apartments in Trump buildings, Trump’s involvement in a controversial SoHo development with Russian associates, the 2013 Miss Universe pageant in Moscow and Trump’s sale of a Florida mansion to a Russian oligarch in 2008, the person said.
It's possible that Trump will back down but that it's far more likely Trump will have no choice but to get rid of Mueller. It could be Trumps' ties to Russia or his ties to American organized crime or some other illegal activities but it's understood that Trump is a criminal with a lot to hide. An IRS audit is one thing, they don't go digging nearly as deep as a criminal probe, but Mueller has a team of experts that will easily be able to expose whatever it is Trump wants to remain buried and he will not allow that.
So where does that leave us?
Republicans turned a blind eye to Trump firing FBI Director James Comey over his investigation into Russia. They shrugged their shoulders when Trump Jr. openly admitted he conspired with the Russians to attack our election. Since the day Trump was inaugurated, they've conspicuously ignored his large and obvious violation of the Constitution's Emoluments clause. All of this (and more) signals the GOP's willingness to enable Trump's blatantly illegal behavior, meaning that there is a very good chance that Trump will be able to fire Mueller with impunity. And once that happens, we will be living through Matthew Yglesias' worst case scenario in which Trump (or rather his goons in the White House) systematically replaces career civil servants with loyalists and sycophants that will rubber stamp whatever corruption Trump and his billionaire Cabinet dream up.
Trump will use the power of the government to directly undermine his enemies in the press and reward outlets that are sympathetic to him. The IRS will suddenly start discovering "irregularities" in the finances of Democrats and progressive leaders. Corporations that do not pay enough lip service (and bribes) to Trump will find a swarm of regulators interrupting their business.
This all sounds insane but right now, this very second, Republicans are aggressively disregarding Trump laying the groundwork for firing the man investigating his corruption. And considering their goal is already a government run by, and for, corporations, there is literally no reason they would oppose Trump turning America into a klepocratic nightmare. Once we cross Trump's "red line" and allow him to fire Mueller without consequence, we are no longer a democracy based on the rule of law.
There are 474 days left to the 2018 elections.
- This article kills fascists
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