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Trump Seems Like He's Edging Toward Firing Mueller, Maybe

The president launched into a tirade after the feds raided his personal lawyer's office.
Donald Trump at a meeting on Monday. Photo by Al Drago/Bloomberg via Getty

It's still unclear why exactly the FBI raided the office of Michael Cohen, Donald Trump's longtime personal lawyer, on Monday, though the payments Cohen made to porn star and alleged intimate Trump companion Stormy Daniels may have had something to do with it. But one thing's for sure: Trump himself is not happy with it.

During a meeting of military leaders later Monday, Trump denounced the raid as a "disgrace" and "an attack on our country in a true sense" in comments that show just how frustrated he has become with the tangled web of lawsuits, accusations, and investigations that have been a constant feature of his presidency. "Here we are talking about Syria, we're talking about a lot of serious things… and I have this witch hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now," Trump complained.


As usual, Trump spoke about the FBI in starkly partisan terms. He described them as "Democrats," and said, "This is the most biased group of people… These people have the biggest conflict of interests I've ever seen." (The FBI raid was conducted in conjunction with federal prosecutors in New York State after a referral from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, though Trump didn't really bother distinguishing between the broader Russia-related investigation and this operation.) He claimed that "they found no collusion whatsoever with Russia," though obviously Mueller's investigation is ongoing, and complained, "They're not looking at the other side, they're not looking at Hillary Clinton, the horrible things that she did."

This sort of me-against-the-world kvetching was a constant theme throughout the 2016 campaign and has become a hallmark of Trump's presidential rhetoric. Unlike during the campaign, however, the people Trump is complaining about are part of the US Department of Justice and therefore technically his own subordinates. In fact, Trump lashed out against Attorney General Jeff Sessions by name, saying that the top Justice official made a "terrible mistake" when he recused himself and that he (Trump) wouldn't have appointed Sessions if he had known the former Alabama senator was going to do that. Trump also said that his widely criticized decision to fire former FBI Director James Comey was the "right thing," citing a controversy about an "insurance policy" that was likely unintelligible to anyone not closely following coverage of a demoted FBI agent's text messages.

Trump could fire Sessions, or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (who appointed Mueller after the Comey firing and who Trump also criticized) at any time, of course. He could even demand that Mueller be fired—a move that the president has reportedly come very close to making. A tirade like the one Trump just launched into could be seen as laying the groundwork for firing everyone—after all, if the FBI and the Department of Justice are so biased and so anti-American, what would be wrong with cleaning house? (Never mind that these institutions are being run by people Trump appointed.) But Trump also has the habit of thinking out loud to the extent that it's hard to judge how serious any of his ideas are.

At the meeting, a reporter asked the obvious question: Will Trump fire Mueller? The president demurred: "We'll see what happens," he said.

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