Could Donald Trump Get Away With Firing Robert Mueller?

Image credit: Karen B. Jones / Shutterstock

To all outward appearances, special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is now closing in on Donald Trump. Mueller’s team has already rolled out a series of indictments and secured several guilty pleas, including a couple from former members of Trump’s inner circle. As if that doesn’t look bad enough, multiple reports have confirmed that investigators are looking into the Trump Organization’s finances. If the president wants to save himself, he may only have one option left: firing Mueller. But could he ever survive such a move?

On one hand, dismissing the man who’s investigating him would be a bold move, reminiscent of the “Saturday Night Massacre” in 1973 that led to the downfall of Richard Nixon. If Trump were to remove the very prosecutor who’s looking into his possible obstruction of justice, it could easily be perceived as only further obstruction of justice, which would only inch him closer to impeachment.

On the other hand, even threatening impeachment would require a Republican-controlled Congress to turn against its own standard bearer. Is this something Conservatives are willing to do?

According to the the New York Times, they’re at least saying the right things publiclySenator Jeff Flake of Arizona told the paper that firing Mueller is “a massive red line that can’t be crossed.” His colleague, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, added that such a firing “would be the beginning of the end of his presidency.” Both men are Republicans.

And yet, there’s a vast difference between words and actions. So far, we’ve heard a lot of words from these GOP senators but little action. A brief look at what they’ve previously let slide is already pretty damning.

We watched the GOP look on as Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey, after admitting on national TV that the Russia investigation was on his mind. In addition, his son fielded an offer of Russian collusion via email, responding with, “I love it.” On top of that, Trump blatantly lied about his administration’s wrongdoings in a recent tweetstorm. “There was no crime,” wrote a man whose national security advisor has already pleaded guilty to multiple crimes. If Congress is willing to overlook all of this, isn’t it naive to think one more firing is a bridge too far?

The Trump administration has repeatedly said that they won’t fire the special counsel. Multiple members of Congress have reaffirmed that he shouldn’t. And yet, it’s getting increasingly difficult to believe either of them. A constitutional crisis might not be as far off as we think.

Zuckerberg May Not Be Running For President, But His Wife Might Be

Mark Zuckerberg and his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, meet with representatives from the U.S. Naval War College.
Photo courtesy of the U.S. Naval War College via Flickr CC.

Despite all the rumors, Mark Zuckerberg has said time and time again that he’s not running for president. However, that’s not to say that his wife, Dr. Priscilla Chan, isn’t.

Speculation began in August 2017, when news outlets noted that the couple had hired a bunch of political pundits at their jointly run charity, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative. These top-notch government officials include former RNC chair Ken Mehlman, Obama’s 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe, Democratic pollster Joel Benenson, and Sen. Tim Kaine’s former communications adviser Amy Dudley. Even Zuckerberg’s personal photographer, Charles Ommanney, documented Bush and Obama’s presidential campaigns.

Everyone just assumed that it was Zuckerberg who was making a run for president because, well, he’s the CEO of Facebook. His success often overshadows that of his wife, which is why the mainstream media failed to consider her as a contender.

In many ways, it’s a shame that the spotlight is primarily on Zuckerberg’s accomplishments, given that Chan has quite a remarkable success story of her own. Both of her parents were immigrants who fled their native country in refugee boats. In an interview with Today, Chan described her parents as incredibly hardworking, adding that her mother worked two jobs her entire childhood.

Chan herself was also quite industrious. In high school, she was voted “class genius” and even went on to snag the title of valedictorian. She got accepted into Harvard, making her a first-generation college student. After completing her undergrad there, she transferred to the University of California, San Francisco, where she became a licensed pediatrician.

Both Chan and Zuckerberg have made education a priority in their philanthropic efforts. The duo has already donated millions to underserved schools. If she were to run for president, Chan would likely run on a platform dedicated to advancing education and promoting equal opportunity.

Did Sen. Gillibrand Try to Seduce Trump for Campaign Funds?

President Trump is notorious for posting cryptic tweets. But this one just may take the cake.

After Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) called on the president to step down amid sexual harassment allegations, Trump responded by calling her a “lightweight” and accused her of “begging” for campaign funds.

“Lightweight Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a total flunky for Charles E. Schumer and someone who would come to my office ‘begging’ for campaign contributions not so long ago (and would do anything for them), is now in the ring fighting against Trump,” the president wrote. “Very disloyal to Bill & Crooked-USED!”

A screenshot of a Trump Tweet.

While no one is quite sure what Trump meant when he called Gillibrand a lightweight, some suggest that Gillibrand may have tried to seduce Trump while under the influence of alcohol. That would explain the extra emphasis he put on the word “begging” as well as his assertion that she would “do anything” for campaign contributions.

Indeed, even Sen. Elizabeth Warren found the tweet to be sexually suggestive, and accused President Trump of slut-shaming Gillibrand.

“Are you really trying to bully, intimidate and slut-shame @SenGillibrand? Do you know who you’re picking a fight with? Good luck with that, @realDonaldTrump. Nevertheless, #shepersisted,” Warren wrote.

A screen shot of a tweet written by Elizabeth Warren.

Anchor Katty Kay of BBC World News America also took to Twitter to defend Gillibrand. In a series of tweets, Kay said Trump’s assertions were “clearly sexual” and “demeaning to women.”

“What is so maddening about the Gillibrand tweet is that women can be smart, work hard, become Senator and STILL get sexual c**p thrown at us,” she wrote. “Enough.”

A screen shot of a tweet written by Katty Kay.

Trump has yet to elaborate on the specific meaning of his tweet. However, according to Open Secrets, a nonprofit that tracks campaign donations, Trump has given a total of $8,900 to Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and $5,850 to Gillibrand since 1996.

Clearly, at one point, there was some type of a working relationship between Gillibrand and Trump. Whether or not that relationship was sexual remains to be seen.

Countable App Makes it Easy to Become Politically Active

These days, it seems that everyone has a political opinion. But so long as people continue to spout their political beliefs without doing anything to effectively drive change, their opinions will remain just that: opinions.

Enter Countable: an app that makes it easy for users to become politically active and influence future policies. Countable simplifies the language used within Congressional bills so that the average citizen can understand it. The app also streamlines the process of contacting government officials so that citizens make their opinions count ahead of any upcoming bills.

“We built an app platform that brings users in, gets them engaged and excited, gives them simple actions they can take to have their voices heard in Congress,” said Countable CEO Bart Myers in an interview with Vator.

The issue that Myers and his team are trying to solve serves a real need. In a 2014 poll conducted by the Annenberg Public Policy Center, only 36% of respondents were able to name all three branches of government (35% couldn’t name a single one). The poll also found that over 60% of respondents did not know which political party controlled the House of Representatives and the Senate. Perhaps most shocking, 70% did not know that a two-thirds vote by both the House and the Senate is required in order to override a presidential veto.

“In five years I want Countable to be the brand and application and solution that every American thinks of when they think of problems in this country. ‘How do I get my lawmaker to solve it? How do I make sure they are listening?’ Countable is where stuff gets taken care of and issues get solved,” said Myers.

Best of all: the app is nonpartisan and offers a pro/con argument for each issue. The goal is to give the public the tools and resources they need to become educated voters. Countable is available for free on both Android and iOS devices.

Strong Arm Tactics Is Just What the North Korea Situation Needs

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that no one wants a nuclear war with North Korea. That said, President Trump’s aggressive tactics when it comes to the situation actually have quite a bit of merit.

Last Thursday, Trump announced a new executive order that basically amounts to sanctions against North Korea. The order will increase US authorities’ ability to blacklist individuals, companies, and financial institutions who do business with North Korea. It’s what North Korea expert Stephan Haggard calls “the most significant experiment in the use of secondary sanctions on North Korea to date.”

It’s also not unlike what President Obama pursued in the case of Iran.

The order will allow the Treasury Secretary and the Secretary of State to impose sanctions on any foreign entity who knowingly gets itself involved in “any significant transaction” involving North Korea—or anyone who does business with them.

Sure, it’s a bit heavy-handed. But since when has anything other than financial concerns gotten politicians to play nice?

Speaking of which, it’s worth noting that China has already responded. As soon as the new sanction was announced, China’s central bank immediately told all Chinese banks to stop providing financial services to North Korean customers. This is likely because the sanction could very easily have significant financial repercussions for China in terms of its interactions with the United States.

As far as Trump’s aggressive speeches go, there’s actual precedent for that tactic when it comes to dealing with potentially dangerous world powers. Called the “madman theory,” a similar method was used by President Nixon in dealing with the Soviet Union and North Vietnam during the Cold War. For Nixon’s Operation Giant Lance, he had American bombers loaded with nuclear weapons circle the area just outside of Soviet airspace. It was a risky bluff, but it did frighten the Soviets and their allies into eventually coming to the negotiation table.

Sure, it’s a tricky balance, using aggression to deal with a situation like the one in North Korea. But the combination of sanctions and (carefully orchestrated) bluffs has been effective in the past. So long as President Trump doesn’t go over the line, strong arm tactics may be just what the situation calls for.