FiveThirtyEight games out what might happen if Donald Trump was to go after Special Prosocutor Robert Mueller by firing his boss Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein….
Trump has ALREADY tried to muscle Rosenstein…
What would happen if Trump were to give Rosenstein the boot? Dismissing him would be a more obvious attempt to control the outcome of Mueller’s investigation than insisting on a separate probe of the FBI. But even in the case of a hypothetical Rosenstein firing, there isn’t a clear line between the president’s legitimate authority over law enforcement agencies and criminal interference in an ongoing investigation. Dismissing the deputy attorney general would be a political bombshell, but the extent of the legal fallout would depend largely on what the president did next.
The specter of obstruction of justice has been hanging over Trump’s interactions with the Department of Justice since last year, when Rosenstein appointed Mueller to investigate interference in the 2016 election. In addition to exploring the possibility that Trump’s campaign was involved in the Russians’ meddling, Mueller has reportedly been looking into whether the president interfered with the probe, most notably by firing FBI Director James Comey last May.
Unlike with Comey, though, Trump does not have the legal authority to dismiss Mueller directly, according to most legal experts (and despite the White House’s assertion to the contrary). Thanks to Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s recusal from the Russia investigation, Rosenstein is the one person who can fire Mueller. But Rosenstein needs a reason to do so, such as misconduct or a conflict of interest, and he has signaled that he sees no such justification….