Donald Trump is threatening a constitutional crisis by directly attacking special counsel Robert Mueller, so what are Republicans going to do about it? Though some Republicans had already, in theory, signed on to legislation preventing Trump from unilaterally firing Mueller, they also insisted that there was no urgency to that because he wasn’t going to do it “right now.” Now that it seems like Trump really would like to fire Mueller “right now,” what are Republicans saying?
Well, mostly nothing. The New York Times reports having gotten no comment from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell or the numbers two and three Senate Republicans, John Cornyn and John Thune. Or Senate Intelligence Committee Chair Richard Burr. Or Senate Judiciary Committee Chair Chuck Grassley. Or House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy. Or House Intelligence Committee Chair Devin Nunes (the amazing thing there being he hasn’t publicly called for Mueller to be burned at the stake). Or House Judiciary Committee Chair Bob Goodlatte. Or a majority of the other Republicans on the Senate Intelligence Committee.
And the Republicans who did have something to say didn’t exactly set the matter at rest. House Speaker Paul Ryan had a spokesperson say that “As the speaker has always said, Mr. Mueller and his team should be able to do their job.” A resounding statement that there will be consequences for firing Mueller it really isn’t.
Sen. Marco Rubio said on Meet the Press that “I remain confident that the special counsel is going to—is going to conduct a probe that is fair and thorough and is going to arrive at the truth and is—and is not going to go down rabbit holes that are not places that we need to be going,” Yippee, Marco remains confident—but what is Marco going to do when Donald fires the special counsel? Oklahoma Sen. James Lankford described Trump as “exceptionally frustrated.” The poor thing! Again, though, what are you going to do when he lashes out in frustration?
This may be the best statement of utter Republican spinelessness, though, when it comes to those Republicans who don’t actually want Mueller fired:
“I mean, talking to my colleagues all along, it was, you know, once he goes after Mueller, then we will take action,” Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “I think that people see that as a massive red line that can’t be crossed. So, I hope that that’s the case. And I would just hope that enough people would prevail on the president now: ‘Don’t go there.‘”
“After the horse gets out of the barn, we will definitely close that door! But I sure do hope someone is talking to the horse trying to explain to him that it would be a bad idea to leave.”