Mueller’s Recourse


Jed Shugerman and Ethan Leib wrote an opinion piece for Slate about the role of Attorney General Jeff Sessions in special counsel Robert Mueller’s Trump-Russia investigation. Recently Sessions fired former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe.

There was a time when it looked like Attorney General Jeff Sessions was faithfully trying to keep the Department of Justice free of the impetuous will of the president. By recusing himself from handling matters related to the 2016 campaign, including the Russia inquiry that eventually morphed into Robert Mueller’s special counsel probe, he had helped sustain the legitimacy of his office and of rule under law in this country.


But Sessions’ latest act—of unceremoniously firing career FBI officer Andrew McCabe right before he would have been entitled to his pension—undermines the independence of his office and makes him look as if he is under the thumb of the president who has threatened Sessions’ job as well. Trump spent much of the weekend triumphantly tweeting that McCabe’s integrity had been diminished before going after Mueller by name for the first time. If Sessions’ action were done to protect President Trump rather than to promote the public interest, McCabe’s firing would be invalid because of an overlooked requirement of our Constitution and of his office. The Constitution may ultimately protect Mueller from being fired, as well.

We can only hope Sessions re-engages his faith. After all, a few short weeks after Richardson and Ruckelshaus showed where their true allegiances were—to the rule of law rather than to a boss looking to put his private interest above the public interest—the people really began supporting impeachment and Nixon resigned. This was a political question at the time and it could remain so. But if Mueller is ultimately fired by Sessions or someone else at the behest of Trump, it could ultimately become a legal question as well.

Read full op-ed.


Comments are closed.