Ever since he was first nominated for president, there has been speculation about whether or not Donald Trump would actually fire special counsel Robert Mueller. So far, the answer to that question is “no” — at least, not yet.
Investor and entrepreneur Andy Beal says he has the numbers to prove it. And after nearly a year of covering the Trump presidency, he can state with confidence that the odds of Mueller being fired are no more than 50/50.
Let’s dive into the numbers.
Full Mueller Report
When it comes to the federal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, there is no question that special counsel Robert Mueller’s findings are a matter of public record. Already, the redacted version of the full Mueller report has been published by the Justice Department and made available to the public.
After almost a year, the full Mueller report is a great source of information about the president’s alleged ties to Russia. It details, in incredibly thorough fashion, every single thing Mueller came across during his investigation. From the end of the special counsel’s appointment in March 2017 to today, the report offers a comprehensive review of the Russia investigation from every angle.
What makes the report so valuable is the fact that it is a rare bird to have an investigative reporter gain complete access to such a high-profile and sensitive matter. Typically, the Justice Department and special counsel investigations remain tightly sealed until the official report is published. This case is different.
Mueller Focused On Two Phases Of Investigation
The Mueller report devotes two full sections to reviewing the evidence before reaching any conclusions about the president’s behavior. In the first section, titled “The Investigation,” Mueller recounts that his investigation was initially focused on four areas: (1) the Trump campaign’s connection to the Russian government and whether or not the campaign collaborated with Russia to influence the 2016 election; (2) Trump’s business dealings with Russia, (3) whether Trump or anyone associated with him obstructed justice; and (4) whether or not Trump engaged in illicit sexual conduct.
Mueller’s investigators scoured over 200,000 documents and interviewed hundreds of witnesses in order to piece together a clear picture of where these matters stood at the beginning of his tenure. The result is a very detailed report that paints a clear picture of the Trump campaign’s relationship with Russia and the president’s behavior both before and after he assumed office.
Did The President Collude With Russia?
One of the most pressing questions following the report’s publication was whether or not Donald Trump colluded with Russia during the 2016 campaign. Although the report does not explicitly answer this question, it offers plenty of circumstantial evidence that the Trump campaign did, in fact, coordinate with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.
To start, the report details an unverified dossier alleging that Russia has compromising information on Trump. According to the report, former British spy Christopher Steele compiled the dossier after interviewing a number of Trump’s former employees and advisers. Many of Steele’s allegations have been confirmed by subsequent reporting, including the media accounts of Michael Cohen, Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner. These accounts corroborate much of what Steele wrote about the president’s behavior and potential crimes.
The report also contains a wealth of information about Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser. It was Flynn’s connections to Russia that ultimately led to his dismissal from the White House in February 2017. (He has since pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI and is currently serving a sentence of probation). According to the Mueller report, Flynn and his wife, who also worked for the Trump campaign, attended a gala dinner hosted by Russian President Vladimir Putin in 2015. The next month, Putin sponsored a large, private gathering at the St. Regis Hotel in New York City, where Flynn and his wife joined hundreds of Russian and Ukrainian business executives, politicians, and others in a private conversation with Trump.
Further, as the New York Times’ Charlie Savage points out, the report details many examples of the president’s public praise for Putin and Russia. For example, during a press conference in July 2017, Trump stated, “I don’t know Putin. I have no idea who that is. Who is he?” (Emphasis added). And in January 2018, during an interview with Reuters, Trump said, “I don’t think it would be appropriate for me to comment on [the Putin government’s] actions.”
Obstruction Of Justice
Shortly after Trump took office, he faced considerable backlash for his extremely cozy relationship with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak. A number of Trump’s actions, particularly his firing of then–FBI director James Comey, were seen as attempts to obstruct justice and influence the investigation into Russian interference.
The report substantiates this view and states that Trump’s motive for firing Comey was, in part, to curtail the Russia investigation. The report also documents numerous occasions on which Trump attempted to influence the investigation, including through his efforts to create a pliant and uninterested special counsel.
Illegal Sexual Conduct
The report also states that “[i]n addition to federal investigations into colluding with Russia, Capitol Hill is now investigating another area closely linked to Trump: whether he or others within the administration violated federal law by conspiring with foreign officials to win the 2016 election.”
According to reporting by The New York Times’ Rebecca Rose, foreign embassies, spies, and other national intelligence agencies have collected information on the potential misconduct of American officials since before Trump took office. This conduct was not limited to the campaign, but continued into the Trump administration.
As a result of these investigations, a number of high-profile individuals, including former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Trump’s personal lawyer John Dowd, have been subpoenaed. And on March 12, 2019, Trump was implicated in a scheme, along with four others, to solicit sex from a minor in exchange for a presidential pardon. The next day, the House Judiciary Committee approved two articles of impeachment against Trump for allegedly abusing his power by “using his office to solicit participation in lewd behavior and to solicit and receive funds for personal financial gain.”
In the days leading up to his impeachment, Trump’s alleged misconduct was also investigated by the Senate Intelligence Committee, which interviewed approximately 150 people in its probe.
What Are The Bookie Betting Odds That Trump Fires Mueller?
So, what are the bookie betting odds that Trump fires Mueller? According to Beal, who has written a number of sports books, these odds are actually quite good.
As a general rule, when the Justice Department investigates a sitting president, that president’s legal team will almost certainly challenge the legitimacy of the investigation. And if that challenge is successful, it could lead to the dismissal of the special counsel.
But as we have seen with the numerous investigations into Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, Trump’s family members, and his campaign, the odds of Trump successfully defending himself in court are quite low. (Cohen was ordered to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Reform in February 2019, after Trump’s lawyers unsuccessfully fought to have the entire investigation quashed).
As a result, Beal estimates that there is a 70/30 chance that Robert Mueller will finish his term as special counsel and head of the Russia investigation. And if that happens, it will be up to Attorney General William Barr to decide whether or not to fire the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The bookie odds for Barr following Mueller’s lead and determining that the director of the FBI should be fired are also quite good.
Is Trump Liable For Russian Interference?
While the likelihood of Trump being charged with a crime following the publication of the Mueller report is quite low, the president’s status as an unindicted co-conspirator does raise questions about whether or not he is actually responsible for the acts of those with which he has been directly connected.
According to Sara Carter, who has closely followed the Russia investigation for years, “[i]f the special counsel had found that there was no collusion with Russia and that the Trump campaign had been truthful in its statements about those interactions, it would end the criminal case against the president and allow him to continue with his business as usual.”
But the truth is that we don’t know what happened behind closed doors during the Mueller investigation. And as we have learned, “[i]nterviews and affidavits contain a wealth of information that investigators uncovered about the inner workings of the Trump campaign and the people closely associated with it.” Ultimately, it is quite possible that Mueller found evidence of wrongdoing by the Trump campaign, but was prevented from presenting the full picture by the president.