Rachel Maddow proved on Wednesday night that Donald Trump’s firing of attorney general Jeff Sessions is all about killing Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation.
If it wasn’t, the MSNBC host explained, then Trump would have just stuck to the normal practice of temporarily replacing an outgoing attorney general with the deputy attorney general, which in this case is Rod Rosenstein.
But since Rosenstein is committed to protecting the special counsel investigation, Trump took a different approach and picked somebody that would do his bidding – Matthew Whitaker.
“Part of the reason you can be quite sure that something quite abnormal just happened here is that the president didn’t just fire attorney general Jeff Sessions and have Rod Rosenstein step into the top job in an acting capacity to fill the gig until somebody else could be nominated to take the job full-time,” Maddow explained.
— PoliticusUSA (@politicususa) November 8, 2018
Under normal circumstances, firing Jeff Sessions for any reason at all would elevate this man, deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein to become the acting head of the Justice Department, to become the acting attorney general. Part of the reason you can be quite sure that something quite abnormal just happened here is that the president didn’t just fire attorney general Jeff Sessions and have Rod Rosenstein step into the top job in an acting capacity to fill the gig until somebody else could be nominated to take the job full-time. Instead, he fired the attorney general Jeff Sessions and instantly installed a new guy, who has been described as Trump’s eyes and ears in the Justice Department for months now. He installed a new guy to become the acting attorney general, slotting him in above Rod Rosenstein. And the new guy will take over instantly all of the work at the Justice Department, including taking control of the Mueller investigation, taking control of the Mueller investigation away from Rod Rosenstein. Putting it instead in the hands of this Trump loyalist.
Trump is acting fast following the blue wave
With Democrats retaking control of the U.S. House of Representatives this week, Donald Trump knows that his time of unchecked power is running out.
He understands that Democrats will work quickly to protect the special counsel investigation and hold him accountable, so firing Jeff Sessions and replacing him with a lapdog was his hail mary pass to shut down the Mueller investigation.
If the current Republican majority in Congress cares about the rule of law, they should recognize that what happened on Wednesday – replacing the attorney general with a puppet that will protect the president from a special counsel probe – is not normal. Mueller will likely be Trump’s ultimate target.
Congress must act quickly to protect the special counsel investigation before Trump goes any further down this dangerous path to a constitutional crisis.