Mueller Probe: As Trump Mulls Retaliation, Where Do Republicans Draw The Line?

The drumbeat on the right is getting louder: President Trump should fire a key figure in the Russia investigation – not special counsel Robert Mueller, but his supervisor, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Trump allies say.

Their stated reason: Mr. Rosenstein has allowed Mr. Mueller to exceed his original mandate, which was to investigate Russian meddling in the 2016 election and the possible involvement of Trump associates. The latest example of an expanded mandate – the FBI raid Monday on the hotel room and office of Mr. Trump’s personal lawyer – infuriated the president, and boosted the argument for firing Rosenstein.

As president, Trump has the power to fire the deputy attorney general, but such a move – particularly in the service of reining in Mueller or even firing him, too – would be highly controversial. Firing Rosenstein would suggest to the president's critics that he is intent on halting or impeding an investigation that, the latest polls show, a majority of Americans support.

Caught in a squeeze are Republican lawmakers, who largely insist Trump at least wouldn’t fire Mueller. “It would be catastrophic,” says Sen. Susan Collins (R) of Maine in an interview with the Monitor. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R) of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, says Trump firing Mueller would be “suicide.”

But some Republican strategists aren’t so sure that a Trump move against a top Department of Justice figure – especially Rosenstein – would spark a massive uproar among most Republicans on Capitol Hill.

“They will feel they have no choice but to fall in line,” says Ford O’Connell, chairman of the CivicForumPAC.

Read more from Linda Feldmann at the Christian Science Monitor

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