Firing Rosenstein would cross a red line drawn by Democrats and resistance groups defending the rule of law

Rosenstein testifying on the Hill in December 2017. (House.gov)
Rosenstein testifying on the Hill in December 2017. (House.gov)

A New York Times article based on second- and third-hand reports from anonymous sources about comments Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made in the Spring of 2017 is being widely – and legitimately — perceived as someone’s attempt to pave the way for Trump to fire him.

Rosenstein is overseeing Robert Mueller’s special counsel investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian governments, after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself.

For Trump, who just last week tweeted about the “Illegal Mueller Witch Hunt,” getting Rosenstein out of the way would be an obvious first step to either de facto or de jure  closing down Mueller’s investigation.

A number of contingencies in place should Trump fire Mueller would also go into operation if he fires Rosenstein.

The Mueller Firing Rapid Response network includes dozens of grassroots groups like Moveon.org, Common Cause, Public Citizen, the American Federation of Teachers and the Service Employees International Union.

Over 400,000 people have already signed up and promised to take to the streets — at more than 900 events, in every state — within hours of Trump crossing one of the agreed-upon “red lines” for the rule of law.

And the network’s plan specifies that the line would be crossed by “Actions that would prevent the investigation from being conducted freely, such as replacing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.”

“Obviously, today’s report in the New York Times has us again looking closely at our plans to confirm we’re prepared in the event that Trump fires Rosenstein and attempts to interfere with the independent investigation being led by Robert Mueller,” said Brian Stewart, a Moveon.org spokesman.

Congressional response, while less predictable, would also be quick.

In February, Congressional Democrats sent Trump a letter warning him that “Firing Rod Rosenstein, DOJ Leadership, or Bob Mueller could result in a constitutional crisis of the kind not seen since the Saturday Night Massacre.”

And in April, Sen. Chuck Schumer told reporters: “I’d like to make something crystal clear to the president. Mr. President, any attempt to remove Rod Rosenstein will create the exact same constitutional crisis as if you fired Special Counsel Mueller. Don’t do it, do not go down this path. For the sake of our country, we plead with you. Don’t put this country through a constitutional crisis. Whether by firing Mueller, Rosenstein, or otherwise impeding this investigation from going forward. The rule of law is paramount in this country. No man, not even the president is above it.”

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