You’ve probably seen the breaking news:
Trump’s former campaign chair Paul Manafort and an associate have been indicted by a federal grand jury and surrendered to federal authorities this morning.1
These are the first criminal charges brought in the probe by Special Counsel Robert Mueller into the Trump campaign’s corruption and foreign ties.
We know Trump is erratic and impulsive. We know the White House has repeatedly floated the possibility of firing Mueller.2 And we’ve watched as Fox News and right-wing media outlets spent the last week laying the groundwork for it.3
We need to fight back right now.
Congress has the power to stop Trump from firing Mueller, and they could do it today if they wanted to. Two bills — with Democratic and Republican co-sponsors — have already been introduced to rein in Trump by requiring judicial review of any presidential attempt to terminate a special counsel.4
The 12 counts in today’s indictment against Manafort include conspiracy, tax fraud, and laundering $18 million. And with the investigation still very much ongoing, this may be just the start.
But the next few days are likely to be pivotal.
Trump has already shown us he has no compunction about firing an FBI Director in order to derail an investigation into the corrupt dealings of his family and his campaign.5
He’s shown us he is willing to use the power of the presidential pardon in disturbing ways, like pardoning racist Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio.6
And of course Trump and Republicans would love for this all to go away so they can continue their agenda of slashing health care, giving massive tax cuts to the rich, targeting immigrants and communities of color, destroying democratic institutions, banging the drums for nuclear war, and fueling poisonous hate across the country.
Some Congressional Republicans — like retiring Senators Jeff Flake and Bob Corker — have started to talk a good game about opposing Trump and reining in his abuses of power. Now it’s time for them to walk the walk.
Congress needs to act right now to stop Trump from impulsively firing Mueller and setting off a constitutional crisis.
1. Paul Manafort, Once of Trump Campaign, Indicted as an Adviser Admits to Lying About Ties to Russia, New York Times, October 30, 2017
2. Why Trump Might Fire Robert Mueller, The Atlantic, October 30, 2017
3. The question that matters now: what will Republicans do when Trump fires Mueller?, Vox, October 30, 2017
4. Bills to Protect Mueller Are Bipartisan, but the Path Forward Is Uncertain, New York Times, September 26, 2017
5. Trump said he was thinking of Russia controversy when he decided to fire Comey, Washington Post, May 11, 2017
6. Trump pardons former Sheriff Joe Arpaio, CNN, August 27, 2017