Commentary: Firing at the FBI

“A total witch hunt with massive conflicts of interest!” tweeted Donald Trump this Monday, clearly aiming an attack at special counsel Robert Mueller, who has been investigating the president’s surreptitious ties to Russia since May of last year. This barrage of new tweets appears to be the first time that The Donald has called directly out the director on Twitter, insisting among other allegations that Mueller’s team is filled with “big Crooked Hillary Supporters” and (after capslocking his phone to emphasize his rage) had found “NO COLLUSION!”

I laughed out loud when I first read this tweet. Just what game does this guy think he’s playing? Sure, Mueller has yet to produce enough evidence to put the president behind bars, but he has already published many charges (against Michael Flynn and around thirteen Russian nationals) that reveal the corruption of the Trump administration. Yet, from looking at how Trump fired McCabe as he did with Comey, I am not so sure anymore — maybe Trump has begun to carry out his newest ploy: discrediting Mueller and then firing him once and for all.

This thought scares me. Can Trump actually fire Mueller if he wanted to? According to the Washington Post, even if “the president might first have to order the regulations rescinded or demand that the Justice Department fire the prosecutor,” the answer is a certain yes; Trump can fire the very person who is investigating him and install another one of his puppets in office.

This may very well happen because a similar event has occurred before amidst the Watergate scandal. President Nixon instructed Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, who was investigating in a similar fashion to how Mueller is investigating Trump. When Richardson refused, Nixon turned to the Deputy Attorney General, who also then refused and resigned. By going down the chain of command and compelling people who did not cooperate to resign, Nixon was eventually able to find a lower authority willing to do as he pleased. It’s scary how history may repeat itself.

But I still have hope. Even if Trump fires Mueller, there is an upside — a catch to this tale. It seems that, for once, Democrats and a growing number of Republicans have rallied together to caution the president against taking this course of action. “I think anything directed at firing Mr. Mueller blows up the whole town, and that becomes the end of governing and the presidency as we know it,” says Republican Senator Lindsey Graham. Even Trump’s head lawyer in special counsel inquiry, John Dowd, resigned Thursday morning due to increasing tension between him and the president after he urged Trump to cooperate with Mueller and resist calling him out on social media. All of this point to one reality: by putting Mueller out of office, Trump is digging his own grave. Yes — I confess — maybe I am a little too optimistic. But in this “Stormy” day and age, a little hope could go a long way.

Andy Zeng is a new Lower from Palo Alto, Calif. Contact the author at