Lindsey Graham
Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr

The usual Republican suspects like Lindsey Graham and John McCain are once again gravely intoning their disapproval of President Trump’s latest aggressive escalation against the Mueller probe. Here’s Graham:

Today, Tapper asked Sen. Graham for his reaction if Mueller is indeed fired.

“Well as I have said before, if he tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency because we are a rule of law nation,” the South Carolina senator told the host.

And John McCain:

“Special Counsel Mueller has served our country with honesty and integrity. It’s critical he be allowed to complete a thorough investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election — unimpeded,” McCain tweeted.

Even Paul Ryan:

“As the Speaker has always said, Mr. Mueller and his team should be able to do their job,” AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan, said in a statement issued Sunday.

But at a certain point all of this is meaningless. Trump’s tweets and his lawyer’s statements against the Mueller investigation were essentially trial balloons to see if anyone who step in to stop him if he decided to fire Rosenstein and by extension curb or fire Mueller. And nothing Republicans in Congress have done in the day since those trial balloons were launched has given Trump even the slightest reason to fear the consequences.

There is one simple thing that Republicans can do if they actually want to stop Trump from firing Mueller, and that is actually passing veto-proof legislation to stop him from firing Mueller.

Until then, it’s all just hot air. Trump knows that he can initiate a Saturday Night Massacre faster than Congress can respond, and by the time Congress reacts the damage will be done. Merely making concerned commentary after a desperate and cornered chief executive issues a clear threat is worse than doing nothing. It only serves to give the impression of future action while doing nothing to actually dissuade the president.

If McCain, Ryan and Graham want to convince Trump not to interfere with the Mueller investigation, they know what to do. The rest is noise.

David Atkins

Follow David on Twitter @DavidOAtkins. David Atkins is a writer, activist and research professional living in Santa Barbara. He is a contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal and president of The Pollux Group, a qualitative research firm.