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Can Donald Trump really fire special counsel Robert Mueller and get away with it?

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Yes, but at a huge cost to our system, and to Trump’s presidency.

Begin with the law: Justice Department regulations issued in 1999, in the wake of Kenneth Starr’s investigation of Bill Clinton, say that only an Attorney General can remove a special counsel, and not just for any reason. Such a removal must be based on a finding that the special counsel was guilty of “misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause, including violation of Departmental policies.”

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Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from overseeing the Mueller investigation, so the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, is in charge. If Trump directed Rosenstein to fire Mueller, Rosenstein would have to find “good cause” to remove Mueller, or repeal the Department’s regulation requiring such a finding, and then fire Mueller.

If Rosenstein refused, Trump could fire Rosenstein, and direct the next official in line to fire Mueller. And he could keep firing people down the chain of command until he got someone who would fire Mueller.

Richard Nixon did something like this in what came to be known as the “Saturday Night Massacre,“ ordering Attorney General Elliott Richardson to fire the Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. When Richardson refused and resigned in protest, Nixon then ordered Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox. Ruckelshaus also refused, and resigned. Nixon then ordered the Solicitor General, Robert Bork, who was then acting head of the Department, to fire Cox. Bork did the deed.

There’s an alternative open to Trump. He could simply order Attorney General Sessions to repeal the special counsel regulations, and then Trump could fire Mueller himself.

But, as the Nixon saga showed, these routes would be perilous – both for Trump’s presidency and for our system of government, because they would undermine public trust in the impartiality of our system of justice and in the office of the presidency.

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They would also further divide the country between Trump supporters who believe the Mueller investigation to be part of a conspiracy to undermine the Trump presidency, and the vast majority of Americans who are more likely to believe, as a result of these actions, that Trump has done something that he wants to hide at all costs.

The question is whether Trump is willing to risk it, nonetheless

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Trump impeachment trial: 4 stories from first day spell doom for Mitch McConnell

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If the score was kept for the first day of the impeachment trial, it would show hefty losses for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

As Former Special Counsel for the Department of Defense, Ryan Goodman, pointed out, four major headlines perfectly reflect the cracks in the strangle-hold McConnell has had on his party.

First, McConnell was forced to change the impeachment hearing rules. After a huge uprising by Americans demanding to be able to watch the impeachment trial during normal human hours, senators told McConnell he'd lost the votes to hold proceedings after midnight.

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‘Disease fanboy’: Internet slams NBC conservative for ‘rooting for pandemic’ to distract from Trump impeachment trial

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Hugh Hewitt is once again under fire, this time for almost appearing to be glad a deadly SARS-related virus has been diagnosed in a patient in Washington state – saying additional diagnoses will take the focus away from the Senate's historic impeachment trial. Hewitt is a conservative Washington Post columnist, radio host, MSNBC and NBC contributor, and law professor who went from being a "Never-Trumper" to all-in for President Donald Trump.

"People care much more for their health than theater," said Hewitt via Twitter, referring to Trump's impeachment trial. The SARS-related virus, known as the Wuhan coronavirus, is named for an area of China where it was first found. It "has infected more than 300 people and killed six in an outbreak that has struck China, Thailand, South Korea, Japan and now the US," CNN reports.

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Trump pushed for a sweetheart tax deal on his first hotel — it’s cost NYC $410,068,399 and counting

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In 1975, New York City was run-down and on the verge of bankruptcy. Twenty-nine-year-old Donald Trump saw an opportunity. He wanted to acquire and redevelop the dilapidated Commodore Hotel in midtown Manhattan next to Grand Central Terminal.

Trump had bragged to the executive controlling the sale that he could use his political connections to get tax breaks for the deal.

The executive was skeptical. But the next day, the executive was invited into Trump’s limousine, which ushered him to City Hall. There, he met with Donald’s father Fred and Mayor Abe Beame, to whom the Trumps had given lavishly.

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