Donald Trump’s Watergate?

tags: Watergate, Robert Bork, Nixon, Trump, Saturday Night Massacre, Robert Mueller, Archibald Cox

William McGurn is a member of The Wall Street Journal editorial board and writes the weekly "Main Street" column for the Journal each Tuesday. Previously he served as Chief Speechwriter for President George W. Bush.

Robert Bork has been dead five years. But at a moment when the air is thick with reckless talk about a “constitutional crisis” if President Trump were to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, Bork’s explanation for his firing of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox in 1973 offers balance the nation could use right about now. 

Let us begin by stipulating that when asked by reporters whether he was going to give Mr. Mueller the heave-ho, Mr. Trump answered with no ambiguity: “No, I’m not.” In a follow-up interview with the New York Times, the president said of Mr. Mueller, “I think he’s going to be fair.” 

As clear as these statements are, they have done nothing to stanch the flow of warnings from people directing Mr. Trump not to do what he says he has no intention of doing. From Bernie Sanders and Mark Warner in the Senate to MSNBC and, the chorus goes up: Mr. President, do not fire Mr. Mueller or you will create a constitutional crisis.

There are two broad problems with these admonitions. The first is political. Notwithstanding the drama and foreboding with which these warnings are delivered, Mr. Trump’s most embittered foes can’t help leaving the impression that sacking Mr. Mueller is precisely what they most fervently pray he’ll do, bringing them closer to the impeachment they hope for. 

The bigger problem is definitional. A president exercising his constitutional authority as head of the executive branch to fire someone in that branch may well create a politicalcrisis. But it is in no way a constitutional crisis. ...

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