Groups from across the country are planning mass demonstrations if President Donald Trump heeds the calls to fire former FBI Director Robert Mueller, now looking into his Russian connections.
The effort, launched this fall, has commitments from more than 100,000 Americans to take part in 500 protests across the country, according to an article just published in The Hill. Member groups include Indivisible, MoveOn.org Civic Action, the Center for American Progress Action Fund, Public Citizen, Stand Up America, March for Truth, People for the American Way, Common Cause, and Democracy 21.
“The Resistance is mobilized, and ready to peacefully take to the streets if necessary to defend our Constitution and the rule of law,” said Sean Eldridge, president of Stand Up America in a Facebook post.
Participating cities are listed on trumpisnotabovethelaw.org. The plan calls for protests to begin at 5 p.m. local time if Mueller is fired before 2 p.m. and at noon local time the next day if the firing happens after 2 p.m.
Speculation that Trump may seek to shut down the probe has grown in recent weeks, as evidence of the criminality around him mounts. Two Trump associates, former campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos and former National Security Director Michael Flynn, have already pled guilty to felonies in connection with Mueller’s investigation, while two others, former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his longtime assistant Richard Gates, await trial on felony charges.
Speculation that Trump may seek to shut down the probe has grown in recent weeks, as evidence of the criminality around him mounts.
This has prompted Trump’s defenders to launch an all-out attack on Mueller and his probe, using rhetoric as subtle as a WWE wrestling match.
“Mueller is corrupt. The senior FBI is corrupt. The system is corrupt,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich exclaimed recently on Fox News, which has been leading the charge to have the investigation shut down.
Fox program host Jeanine Pirro went even further.
“There is a cleansing needed in our FBI and our Department of Justice,” she ranted on December 9. “It needs to be cleansed of individuals who should not just be fired but who need to be taken out in handcuffs.” She later upped the ante, calling the FBI, the nation’s premier law-enforcement group, a “crime family.”
That’s most astonishing about these strident pronouncements, now being echoed by Republicans of Congress, is the paucity of the evidence on which they are based. It is almost as if Trump’s defenders believe that anything they point to, no matter how flimsy, will be uncritically accepted as fact by Trump’s base.
What’s most astonishing about the strident pronouncements to fire Mueller, now being echoed by Republicans of Congress, is the paucity of the evidence on which they are based.
Mueller’s attackers are in a tizzy over revelations that one of the FBI agents on his team engaged in anti-Trump email chatter with another agent, with whom he was having an extramarital affair. The most damning example occurred in August 2015, when the agent, Peter Strzok, offered no rebuttal when the object of his affection referred to then-candidate Trump as an “idiot.”
There is no indication that Strzok did anything in his official capacity to compromise the probe in any way. Mueller booted him as soon as the emails were discovered and long before they became publicly known.
In fact, the assessment that Trump is an “idiot” is significantly less harsh than that offered by his own Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, who reportedly called the President “a fucking moron.”
A second driver of rightwing outrage was the disclosure that Mueller’s team obtained Trump transition team emails from the General Services Administration (GSA)—a government agency that houses these records—rather than from transition officials.
Transition team lawyer Kory Langhofer referred to this disclosure of information as “unauthorized,” spurring a new round of ginned up outrage.
Trump himself got in on the act last Friday, telling reporters, “it’s a shame what’s happened with the FBI,” saying the manner in which these documents were obtained is, “really, really disgraceful, and you have a lot of very angry people that are seeing it. It’s a very sad thing to watch, I will tell you that.”
There is nothing improper about Mueller obtaining documents from a government entity and not transition officials. Information in the custody of a government agency is considerably less susceptible to tampering than that maintained by partisans with perhaps something to hide.
“This is not a problem,” said former federal prosecutor Jeffrey Cramer. “The server owner, in this case GSA, properly has the emails and can turn them over if there was a subpoena or court order,” just as Internet providers and financial institutions may release emails and other records when ordered to do so.
Democrats in Congress also pushed back. “This is another attempt to discredit Mueller as his Trump-Russia probe tightens,” tweeted Eric Swalwell, a member of the House intelligence committee.
Trump on Sunday said he is not planning to fire Mueller. He predicted that Mueller would soon clear him of wrongdoing—assumptions apparently not shared by members of his inner circle. There is speculation that Trump may proceed by firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Mueller probe.
The Mueller investigation began in May, after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey explicitly because of the agency’s decision to look into allegations of Russian interference with the election that brought Trump to power. Trump even told Russian officials: “I just fired the head of the FBI. He was crazy, a real nut job.” The President added, “I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”
Or so he thought.