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Ex-DOJ Lawyer: Trump 'Has Cards to Play' in Mueller Drama

Image: Ex-DOJ Lawyer: Trump 'Has Cards to Play' in Mueller Drama
President Donald Trump (AP Photo)

By    |   Thursday, 03 Aug 2017 07:21 PM

The issue is complicated on whether President Donald Trump could fire special counsel Robert Mueller — but the real question is what Congress would do to stop him, a top government lawyer says.

In a piece for Politico posted Thursday, Eric Columbus — who served as senior counsel to the deputy attorney general in the Department of Justice from 2009 to 2014, and as special counsel to the general counsel of Homeland Security from 2014 to 2017, said Trump has "cards to play."

"It's quite likely Trump can install an attorney general who is able and willing to fire Mueller," Columbus wrote.

"The tougher question, best left for another day, is whether and how Congress can act to stop it. . . . What's not in doubt, however, is that Congress could, if it chooses, turn up the political heat if Trump fires Mueller, and could even deem such an act an impeachable offense."

According to Columbus, Trump probably could not directly fire Mueller, and Department of Justice regulations make clear he can only be canned by the attorney general only for "good cause."

But Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who serves as the acting attorney general for Mueller-related issues due to Jeff Sessions' recusal, has already signaled "that he's seen nothing of the sort," Columbus noted.

If Sessions is replaced as attorney general, his successor could either propose a "good cause" or, Columbus wrote, more likely rescind the good-cause requirement and then fire Mueller.

Trump could also appoint an acting attorney general and never nominate a real one, relying on a 1998 law, the Vacancies Reform Act, which allows such appointments for 210 days, Columbus wrote.

Though it is not clear whether Trump can use the VRA when there is a deputy attorney general and associate attorney general who are able to serve — unless he fires them too, Columbus wrote.

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The issue is complicated on whether President Donald Trump could fire special counsel Robert Mueller, but the real question is what Congress would do to stop him, a top government lawyer says.
fbi, special counsel, robert mueller, investigation
309
2017-21-03
Thursday, 03 Aug 2017 07:21 PM
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