Trump could

Painter and Eisen on the ways Trump can and cannot impede Mueller.

Mr. Trump could install someone at the Department of Justice to oversee Mr. Mueller’s investigation, a minder who could control (and cut) Mr. Mueller’s budget, eliminate some of his team or curtail the scope of his investigation. Mr. Mueller seems safe as long as his current supervisor, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, is in place; Mr. Rosenstein just vouched for the special counsel before Congress. But the president has reportedly grumbled about Mr. Rosenstein and could replace him with a crony who would be more willing to interfere.

As Nixon tried to do. It didn’t work out for Nixon, but he didn’t have a Republican Congress…and Republicans weren’t as cynically indifferent to law and morality then.

The president may also try to pardon away the special counsel’s investigation. Mr. Trump could grant pardons to individuals who have already pleaded guilty, such as Michael Flynn, his former national security adviser, who pleaded guilty to lying to the F.B.I. this month. Or Mr. Trump might do so prospectively, to those who may be targets, such as his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, or his son Donald Trump Jr. Mr. Trump might even issue one to himself (he reportedly asked about it), whether individually or as part of a blanket pardon of all those involved in the Russia investigation.

And then we would know we were stuck in a tinpot dictatorship. It would be terrifying.

They can talk smack about Mueller, and they are, but it’s a hard sell when Trump is such a puffed-up turd of a man and Mueller is not.

Trump could just fire Mueller. He said the other day that he’s not planning to, but so what, he says all kinds of things (that’s what makes him such an expert on all the things), and he could say the opposite tomorrow, or just do it without saying anything.

The drumbeat of distortions and threats will, sadly, continue and must be promptly rebutted by commentators, Congress and the public. Democracy demands defense with analysis, opinion and the readiness for public protest (one of the co-authors, Mr. Eisen, has been involved in organizing these efforts). Peaceful force is something that Mr. Trump has made clear he understands. We must continue to deploy it, lest the president achieve by debasement what our collective efforts have thus far prevented him from doing directly: stopping Robert Mueller’s investigation.

I wish us all the best of luck.

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