Can Donald Trump personally fire the people involved in the southern district NY investigation

I’ve heard he cannot, but that doesn’t make sense to me. Can’t Trump just start firing people who work for the southern district in New York until they stop doing the investigation into Cohen? He got rid of Preet Bharara, why can’t he just start firing people there? Or fire the head US attorney and appoint a lackey who will shut down the investigation?

Also how many separate criminal investigations that may involve Trump are ongoing? Note, I’m talking about criminal investigations that could affect Trump directly, not civil investigations into the Trump administration (like the attorney generals suing the EPA, or lawsuits between California & the federal government regarding the wall).

Mueller special counsel probe
SDNY probe into Cohen
Schniederman NY attorney general probe into Trump (I don’t know if this has been rolled into the Mueller investigation though)

My understanding is that the President can only directly fire Federal employees who are political appointees, that is, those that are nominated by the administration and who require Senate confirmation. Preet Bharara was in a such a position. The President can’t fire staff members below that level.

I think this is correct but the president can put pressure on the people he can fire to fire the people below them. If they refuse he can fire them and appoint someone who will.

Of course there are political considerations that complicate doing that but he can do it.

On Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC show, either last night or the night before, she noted that Geoffrey Berman, who was appointed by Trump (or Sessions) on an interim basis to fill Bharara’s former post, is about to have the time limit on his interim position run out. Berman still hasn’t been confirmed to hold the post on an ongoing basis, and he has recused himself from involvement in the Cohen case (for reasons that are not clear).

Maddow hypothesized that Trump would let Berman’s interim window run out, and then appoint someone else to the post, who might then be willing to stop the Cohen prosecution.

A New York Times article which contains some of this info:

Remember Nixon and the Saturday Night Massacre?

He couldn’t fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox directly, he had to ask the Attorney General to do so. And he had to go through several until he found a toady willing to do so; the others resigned rather than do this.

He can hire a White House security advisor (John Bolton), a position that requires no Senate confirmation. Are you sure he can’t fire him? If not, then who can?

Are you sure he can’t fire the White House usher? That is also a position that requires no Senate confirmation and that is not protected under Civil Service.

As has been explained several times on these boards before, both Richardson and Ruckleshaus, the AG and Deputy AG who resigned, urged Bork to comply rather than resign himself. They were concerned that if Bork also resigned, Nixon would continue down the list of Justice Department staff until he found someone that would carry out the order, leaving the department bereft of capable leadership. Bork was minded to resign, but was convinced by this line of reasoning – and he believed, correctly, that Nixon’s order was both ill-advised and perfectly legal.

None of this supports the claim that Bork was a “toady.”

Did you know that, and post the above anyway, or is this news to you?

So Trump can fire the head of the investigation, but not the people under him/her?

What is to stop Trump from firing the head of the SDNY, and appointing some lackey who shuts down the investigation?

Toady — Bork. And Bork years later was denied a Supreme Court position by the Senate. Et tu, Robert?

Finding a lackey? Bork was willing, and it came back to bite him (along with his other views). Any lackey would also have to consider the possibility that the fired non-lackeys would take any instructions to stop an investigation to any bar association where the guy lands up later… Can you be a DA if you have your license revoked?

Gorsuch just voted against Trump’s deportation effort. Not everyone you think is on your side is a automaton yes-man.

Can a DA be impeached? Certainly can be called to congress to answer questions about an investigation, especially if it is not ongoing

Of course he can fire him. Colibri was talking specifically about Senate-confirmed political appointees, which you have to be to lead a US Attorney’s office, outside of a recess appointment.

The Chief Usher of the White House isn’t a political appointee. Senior White House staff also serve at the pleasure of the president but don’t generally require Senate confirmation, because their duties are either advisory or administrative.

In the short term, political pressure and congressional oversight. (Larf.) In the long term, the requirement for Senate confirmation.

So is there a provision for temporary appointments (like judges, when congress isn’t sitting), or does anyone going to be a head DA have to be approved first before they have authority?

Presumably the underlings cannot be directly fired by the president but must be fired by the DA or acting DA?

US Attorneys can get the job via recess appointment, just like any political appointee, without Senate confirmation. But those terms are limited to when Congress next convenes. Or they may just decide to never recess.

There can also be temporary appointments, in which someone in another position who has already been confirmed by the Senate (for that other position) takes the job temporarily. Those things are time-limited by statute (I don’t care to look it up at the moment.) Eventually they have to return to their old job or get a new confirmation.

They can be fired for cause, certainly. But they also have civil service protections that makes it difficult to remove them at will. That said, the boss can simply reassign them to other duties or order them not to pursue a given investigation. Prosecutors are unlikely to take that kind of treatment lying down, but it can certainly throw a wrench into the works.

So Bork can rationalize to assuage his conscience when he does something he thinks shouldn’t be done.

Seems to me forcing Nixon down the list, axing people as he goes, becomes politically untenable at some point and alerts the country that the president is doing something deeply unwise.

Or you talk Bork into doing it.

Is “The DA told me to stop investigating his friend” grounds for a state bar association to revoke the DA’s lawyerly accreditation? (If they feel it was done with incorrect intentions?)

Can you be a DA if you’ve lost your bar license?

(I recall the DA for somewhere in NYC (state DA?) was extremely upset that the NYPD investigated Harvey Weinstein without telling him…)

Let me repeat what Colibri said:

Notice the use of the word “only.” “[T]he President can only directly fire Federal employees who are political appointees…” So then you agree that there is a class of federal employees that the president can fire who are not political employees or not confirned by the Senate?

I was stating my understanding of the rule as it pertained to the question in the OP. I won’t dispute that there may be some positions under the President’s direct purview who are not subject to Senate confirmation that he can fire directly. But unless you are contending that Trump can fire staff in the southern district of New York who are not political appointees and subject to confirmation, your point isn’t really relevant to the discussion at hand. Your point is taken, but Trump firing the White House Usher probably isn’t going to derail the investigation.:wink: