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Can Trump fire special counsel Mueller? Maybe, but the probe would go on.

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And some legal scholars have suggested another scenario: Trump could argue that Mueller is interfering with foreign relations and that the president therefore had separate authority to fire him.

Legal experts, as they often do, disagree about what Trump could do, and the courts have never provided an answer to a situation like this.

Rosenstein has repeatedly said he has confidence in Mueller and sees no grounds for firing the special counsel. If Trump ordered Rosenstein to do it anyway and Rosenstein refused, Trump would clearly have authority to fire the deputy attorney general.

Under an executive order spelling out the order of succession at the Justice Department, authority over Mueller would then fall to the associate attorney general, who was Rachel Brand. No successor to her has yet been confirmed.

Authority would then go to the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, although that position is currently held by an acting official, then to the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Robert Higdon, and then to the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas, Erin Nealy Cox.

 Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein at the Justice Department in Washington on March 23. Win McNamee / Getty Images

Of course, any move to fire Mueller, either directly or indirectly, would have serious political consequences for the president.

Neal Katyal, a former acting solicitor general in the Obama administration, said, “Trump has all sorts of powers. That doesn’t mean exercising them is wise or comports with the rule of law. If he fires Mueller or Rosenstein to protect himself, it is an impeachable offense and will trigger a constitutional crisis.”

And firing the special counsel would not accomplish Trump’s goal of putting an end to the Russia meddling investigation. The probe would simply revert to the FBI and the Justice Department, where prosecutors and federal agents would continue the kind of work they were doing before the special counsel was appointed.

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Keir Starmer's Labour Party plummets as Boris Johnson doubles lead in new poll

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THE TORIES have doubled their lead over Labour in the latest YouGov poll as Boris Johnson’s party continues to enjoy favourable ratings thanks to the huge success of the Covid vaccine rollout.

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Attorney General Garland rescinds Trump-era memo curtailing consent decrees

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WASHINGTON — Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday rescinded a Trump-era memo that curtailed the use of consent decrees that federal prosecutors have used in sweeping investigations of police departments.

Garland issued a new memorandum to all U.S. attorneys and other Justice Department leaders spelling out the new policies on civil agreements and consent decrees with state and local governments.

The memo comes as the Justice Department shifts its priorities to focus more on civil rights issues, criminal justice overhauls and policing policies in the wake of nationwide protests over the death of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement.

In easing restrictions placed on the use of consent decrees, the Justice Department is making it easier for its prosecutors to use the tool to force changes at police departments and other government agencies with widespread abuse and misconduct.

The memo in particular rescinds a previous memo issued by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions shortly before he resigned in November 2018.

Democrats have long argued the ability of the Justice Department’s civil rights division to conduct sweeping probes of police departments had been curtailed under President Donald Trump. The so-called pattern or practice investigations examine whether systemic deficiencies contribute to misconduct or enable it to persist.

“This memorandum makes clear that the Department will use all appropriate legal authorities to safeguard civil rights and protect the environment, consistent with longstanding Departmental practice and informed by the expertise of the Department’s career workforce,” Garland said.

The Justice Department didn’t totally ban pattern or practice investigations under Trump, but former Attorney General William Barr suggested they may have been previously overused.

As attorney general in the Obama administration, Eric Holder frequently criticized violent police confrontations and opened a series of civil rights investigations into local law enforcement practices. The civil rights investigations often ended with court-approved consent decrees that mandated reforms.

The consent decrees included those with the police in Ferguson, Missouri, after the killing of Michael Brown and in Baltimore following the police custody death of 25-year-old Freddie Gray.

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SNP outlines when Scotland would hold independence referendum after elections

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SNP John Swinney has outlined when his party would hold a Scottish independence referendum if they won a majority in the next election.

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