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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.

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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.

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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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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Iran Foreign Minister Zarif perfectly Twitter-trolls Trump with photos of meeting with smiling Macron at G7

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Iran Foreign Minister Javad Zarif used Donald Trump's favorite social media platform to get in a dig at the president and rub his nose in the fact that French President Emmanuel took time out from the busy G7 meeting he is hosting to sit down with him.

The White House was reportedly blindsided by Macron's invitation that had been kept a secret from Trump and now, if Trump wanted proof of the meeting, he need only hop on Twitter to see the evidence.

As Zarif wrote, "Iran's active diplomacy in pursuit of constructive engagement continues. Met @EmmanuelMacron on sidelines of #G7Biarritz after extensive talks with @JY_LeDria & Finance Min. followed by a joint briefing for UK/Germany. Road ahead is difficult. But worth trying."

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Hong Kong police fire first gunshot in protest clashes

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Hong Kong police used water cannon for the first time and at least one officer fired his sidearm during pitched battles with protesters Sunday, one of the most violent nights in three months of pro-democracy rallies that have rocked the city.

An afternoon rally in the district of Tsuen Wan spiralled into violent running confrontations between protesters and police, with officers several times caught outnumbered and isolated by masked youths wielding sticks and throwing rocks.

In one instance, several police officers drew their sidearms, an AFP reporter at the scene said.

"According to my understanding, just now a gunshot was fired by a colleague," Superintendent Leung Kwok Win told the press.

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A Los Angeles sheriff’s deputy admits he lied about being shot by a sniper

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A Los Angeles sheriff's deputy who claimed to have been attacked by a sniper last week has confessed to lying about the supposed incident.

"Reinosa admitted he was not shot at as he previously claimed," L.A. County Homicide Capt. Kent Wegener said regarding Angel Reinosa, the California sheriff's deputy who was still a trainee when he claimed on Wednesday that he had been attacked by an unknown sniper, according to ABC News. "He also told investigators he had caused the holes in his uniform by cutting it. There was no sniper, no shots fired and no gunshot injury sustained to his shoulder."

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