The latest twist in the "Putingate" scandal, a major factor driving Trump's negative ratings to near 60 percent, is that some of his "friends" are suggesting Trump might fire the almost universally-respected and admired special counsel, former FBI Director Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE.

Whether one believes Trump will actually fire Mueller would depend on the degree one believes that Trump or people very close to him are guilty of crimes that would come to the attention of the special counsel. If Trump knows that neither he nor those close to him did anything wrong, it would be in his and their interest for Mueller to remain and clear him.


If Trump does fire Mueller, it would be a virtual admission of guilt in the eyes of huge numbers of Americans. There would be an intense backlash from across the spectrum of American political thought, including liberals, political independents and principled conservatives. His unfavorable rating would climb to more than 60 percent, his low favorable ratings would collapse even further, and he would probably face one or more major resignations in protest from his cabinet.

My guess is that Trump does not fire Mueller because the political and legal impact would be so catastrophic for him and Republicans.

Many reasonable and respected people will argue that the threat to fire Mueller is an attempt to intimidate the former FBI director and the special counsel team to influence the investigation. This would constitute an obstruction of justice, which a growing number of eminent legal authorities believe exist today.

Similarly, the comic opera surrounding Trump's threat that he possesses White House tapes of meetings with former FBI Director James Comey would be interpreted by many legal authorities as an attempt to intimidate and influence the testimony of a key witness. If there are no Trump tapes, attention will turn to why he pretended such tapes might exist when he knew they did not.

The Senate Intelligence Committee should immediately subpoena any tapes and put this matter decisively to rest.

Washington, D.C. has become a surreal "Fantasy Island." Trump chaired a ludicrous cabinet meeting Monday during which one cabinet member after another publicly offered Trump fawning praise that would be humiliating to cabinet members of any previous president. Trump then claimed that he has already achieved more than any previous president other than Franklin Roosevelt!

If Trump fires Mueller he would achieve the grand slam for closing arguments in a possible case of obstruction of justice. He fired former New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara while his office was investigating the Russia scandal. He fired former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she warned the White House of the dangers of the Russia scandal. He fired former FBI Director James Comey after Comey refused to heed his wish to end the investigation of his former national security advisor, Michael Flynn.

To now fire Robert Mueller, who leads the Russia investigation today, would be the straw that breaks the camel's back, even for many Republicans in Congress.

If Trump fires Mueller there will be champagne toasts in the Kremlin, fear and dread in the Republican cloakrooms of the House and Senate, impeachment resolutions filed by members of both parties, a constitutional crisis of the first order of magnitude and a premature and unhappy ending for the Trump presidency.

Brent Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), then-chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. in international financial law from the London School of Economics.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.