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An ongoing crisis summary to keep you informed, active, and sane. Written from a center-left perspective, focused on removing the threat of Trumpian autocracy. By Francis Hwang.

Day 374.

Trump ordered Mueller's firing last summer—and possibly not for the last time

This week brought new reporting that Robert Mueller's Russia investigation, now in its ninth month, was nearly cut short just as it was getting started. Citing four different sources, the New York Times reported that Donald Trump ordered the firing of Mueller last June. Trump's order was halted by White House Counsel Donald McGahn, who threatened to resign rather than pass the word to the Justice Department.

That same month, Trump also ordered senior aides to launch a campaign to discredit senior FBI officials, according to new reporting in Foreign Policy. James Comey had just been fired as director of the FBI; Trump was apparently concerned that some of Comey's colleagues would give unhelpful testimony in the matter.

Republican attacks on the FBI continue to this day. This week, Sen. Ron Johnston (R-Wisc.) pitched the conspiracy theory that some FBI agents were forming a "secret society" to overthrow the will of the people, only to back down when it became obvious that his source was a single sarcastic text message. Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) has managed to drum up interest in a classified memo that he claims shows the FBI engaging in "shocking" abuses of power. But given Nunes' previous shenanigans on the issue, it's unlikely there's anything meaningful behind this newest tease.

Ryan Goodman, a New York University law professor who previously served as counsel in the Department of Defense, notes that six different Trump campaign officials have lied to federal authorities about contacts with Russians. And even now, Trump is refusing to implement new sanctions targeting Russia. As Mueller's investigation turns up the heat, how will Trump react? The White House Counsel protected Mueller last June, but there's no guarantee that he will be willing or able to do so a second time.

In preparation for the possibility that Mueller might be fired, MoveOn.org has collated a nationwide list of protests that would convene soon afterwards. For now Mueller can continue his investigation, but if it is cut short suddenly, citizens across the country will be needed to embolden members of Congress to do what's best for the country.

Hopefully it will not come to that. But Donald Trump is a man who sees only his own interests, and he may soon be tempted to lash out in desperation. If he does so, it will be the job of all Americans to remind him: In our country, nobody, not even the President, is above the law.

Government funding restored for now, with hopes of putting DACA on the table

After a three-day standoff, Congress ended the federal shutdown on Monday, but only for another seventeen days. Democratic leaders agreed to fund the government through February 8. In return, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promised to address the issue of "Dreamers", undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children. Republicans also granted a six-year reauthorization to the Children's Health Insurance Program, which subsidizes health care for poor children.

Many pundits declared this round a victory for Republicans, but your writer thinks it's too soon to tell. Of course, McConnell could choose not to keep his promise and leave the Dreamers in limbo. But in that case Schumer can force another shutdown merely two weeks from now.

In the meantime, Schumer can try using the time to highlight the plight of Dreamers: 700,000 of them are in legal limbo, possibly subject to deportation soon depending on byzantine procedural and legal maneuvering. Allowing Dreamers to stay in the country is a widely popular policy, supported even by a majority of Republican voters.

But Republicans in Congress have shown little courage on the issue, pinned between an increasingly nationalist base and the moderate voters they will need in the midterms. Will Schumer's deal force them to take a difficult stand on the issue? Will this wedge issue make a difference when voters go to the polls in November? Time will tell.

Progress

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ordered that the state's congressional map be redrawn to remove that map's partisan advantage as drawn by state Republicans. The map is required to be approved by February 9, well in advance of this year's midterms.

The federal government's case against activists who protested Trump's inauguration continues to crumble. On Thursday, the U.S. Attorney's office dismissed charges against 129 defendants; 59 defendants are still facing trial.

Setbacks

Tourism spending in the U.S. has dropped 3 percent since Trump took office.