New York Times editorial. And then they came for Robert Mueller.

And then they came for Robert Mueller.

If there were any remaining hope that Republicans would accept the precise, methodical work of this veteran, highly respected, Republican-appointed law enforcement official — the man Newt Gingrich once called a "superb choice to be special counsel" — it has evaporated in a fog of propaganda and delirious conspiracy theories.

In the real world, Mr. Mueller, appointed as special counsel after President Trump fired the F.B.I. director, James Comey, in May, is doing the job he was hired to do — smoke out any and all links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government officials who assaulted American sovereignty in 2016 in an effort to get Mr. Trump elected. These days, the most serious attacks on American governance are coming not from abroad, but from Mr. Trump's aides and his allies in the right-wing media and Congress. As ludicrous as these attacks seem, they could yet lead to a constitutional crisis.

Reading the increasingly outlandish theories cooked up by Mr. Trump's defenders and apologists is like entering an alternate, upside-down universe where Hillary Clinton remains Public Enemy No. 1.

In these irrelevant tales, Mrs. Clinton (or, as Sean Hannity called her on Monday, "President Clinton") is the real colluder, working stealthily with the Russians to — stay with us here — destroy her own candidacy. Also, she and Bill Clinton once sold American uranium to the Russians. Also, Robert Mueller failed to fully investigate that sale when he led the F.B.I., so he's complicit in it, too, not to mention he has ties to Mr. Comey, who also led the F.B.I. Also, some of his investigators donated to Democratic candidates.

There's no bottom to the delusion on display. At this point, investigators could release videotapes of Vladimir Putin personally handing Mr. Trump a uranium-lined briefcase filled with stolen emails, and the right-wing armada would find a way to blame Mrs. Clinton. (This would be followed, of course, by a congressional investigation to identify who leaked the tapes.)These efforts at obfuscation and misdirection would be laughable, but they are linked to a very real and dangerous move by Trump allies throughout right-wing media and the government to shut down the Russia investigation for good.

It's no secret that Mr. Trump has been itching to get rid of Mr. Mueller since soon after his appointment as special counsel in May.

Mr. Trump's advisers have told him that would be a terrible idea and have reportedly talked him out of it more than once. But the calls for such a move are now coming from some of the most influential voices in conservative media, as are other equally bad proposals, like urging that Mr. Mueller resign and that Mr. Trump pardon anyone and everyone caught up in the Russia investigation — including himself.

Mr. Trump would be wise to continue to ignore these loony ideas and restrain his own authoritarian reflexes. The president of the United States, no less than any citizen, lives under the law, not above it; Mr. Mueller's investigation is the embodiment of that fact. Removing him now, after he has already secured two indictments, including one for Mr. Trump's former campaign chief, and a guilty plea by a foreign-policy adviser, would send the message that Mr. Trump and his aides are accountable to no one.

Over the last several weeks, a few top Republicans have found the courage to say out loud what a majority of Americans have known for a long time: With his erratic behavior and antidemocratic eruptions, Donald Trump is presenting a profound danger to security of the nation and the stability of the world order. So far, these dissidents have beat their chests in a safe space, giving eloquent speeches on their way out the door.

But it will not be hard for them to turn their words into actions if Mr. Trump gives in to an impulse to fire Mr. Mueller. Do the math: Three Republican senators (looking at you, Mr. McCain, Mr. Corker and Mr. Flake), joining with 48 Democrats, could bring the Senate to a halt until Mr. Mueller was reinstated — no tax cuts, no more judges confirmed.

The scenario in which Mr. Mueller loses his job, or Mr. Trump further abuses his pardon power, is hypothetical — and may it remain so — but if it materializes, it will fall to Congress to defend the foundations of American democracy, the separation of powers and the rule of law.

October 31, 2017


November 1, 2017

Addendum. As The Times (above) says, There is no end to the delusion. General John Kelly seems determined to prove that too. Yesterday, he led the parade for an investigation into Hillary and the uranium deal. Nevermind reality.

The Washington Post wrote this about the charge that government permission by the Obama administration allowed Russians to own 20% of our nation's uranium: “Given that Uranium One's production is only 2 percent of an already small total U.S. production — not 20 percent — the overwrought claims that Clinton "gave away" 20 percent of the U.S. nuclear supply or that Russia controls that much U.S. uranium are simply absurd." The Post gave the claim 4 Pinocchios.

Nevermind that the State Department was one of 9 federal agencies and a number of additional independent federal and state regulators that signed off on the deal, and that only President Obama, not Hillary, could have vetoed it to stop the sale.

Kelly joined the White House and Breitbart crazies.

In fact, yesterday solidified Kelly as one of the leading Trump crazies: ranting about Hillary and uranium; lying about a Congresswoman; longing for the days when "women were sacred" ; and also yesterday, praising Robert E. Lee, claiming he was a hero and that there should have been a compromise on slavery to save the Union.

But as the Times said above, we now have a safety net against Trump in the Senate. They point out the role that Three Republican senators (Mr. McCain, Mr. Corker and Mr. Flake), joining with 48 Democrats) could play if Trump fires Mueller.

Don't you think that the existence of these three even now is what keeps Trump from that shameful and futile task?

One more matter. The Times changed the name of its Editorial, correctly...

That Crazy Talk About Robert Mueller

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