In all of the perfectly legitimate freak out over the late breaking news that Trump did, in fact, order Special Counsel Robert Mueller fired last June, one part of the story leapt out at me as particularly significant:
After receiving the president’s order to fire Mr. Mueller, the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, refused to ask the Justice Department to dismiss the special counsel, saying he would quit instead, the people said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation.
Mr. McGahn disagreed with the president’s case and told senior White House officials that firing Mr. Mueller would have a catastrophic effect on Mr. Trump’s presidency. Mr. McGahn also told White House officials that Mr. Trump would not follow through on the dismissal on his own. The president then backed off.
Some people are very generously reading this as McGahn talking Trump off the ledge and averting a constitutional crisis. A much less generous reading is that Trump was too much of a chickenshit to fire Mueller himself and when McGahn refused, he didn't follow through because he's a spineless coward.
Remember, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on May 9 and was stunned when people were furious at the move. He actually thought Democrats would applaud him because it Comey's letter was the straw that broke the camel's back in the 2016 race. No, seriously, Trump really did think firing the Director the FBI because he wouldn't stop investing the Russia scandal would be a popular move with his critics.
After the resulting backlash, Trump was clearly going to be gunshy when it came to getting rid of Robert Mueller on the ridiculously flimsy pretenses he came up with (Golfing fees? Really?). That's why he ordered McGahn to do it. Perhaps he thought that if it blew up in his face again he could blame McGahn? It would certainly fit with his "The Buck Stops Over There" philosophy of being president. Regardless, once McGahn refused, Trump realized he would have to do it himself and that simply wasn't an option.
This explains a lot of what's been happening for the last several months. Trump's unending rage at Attorney General Jeff Sessions and why he won't fire him as well as his fury at Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and why Trump won't fire him, either. He's too afraid to go after Mueller himself and he's afraid to fire anyone he would need to remove in order to have someone do the deed for him. He's paralyzed with fear even as the probe closes in on him. So much for "The Most Powerful Man In The World".
It would be laughable if it weren't so pathetic.