The news resulted in a barrage of tweets from the president, who proclaimed that there was “no collusion” between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Since news broke of the latest development in the Russia probe, there has been speculation that the move could result in Mueller being fired by Trump.
Several Republican politicians, including Gov. Chris Christie, have said it’s time for Mueller to resign or be fired. Fox News also ran a story over the weekend, claiming there was increasing support for Mueller’s departure.
But the White House said Monday afternoon that it doesn’t have any plans to fire Mueller. And Aurel Braun, a political science professor at the University of Toronto, says that’s the right call.
“At the moment, it would be an incredibly stupid move,” Braun said, explaining that Manafort’s indictments don’t involve collusion — meaning it’s actually good news for Trump.
WATCH: Trump last spoke to Paul Manafort in February, according to White House records
Does Trump have the authority to fire Mueller?
A special counsel can only be fired through a direct order by the attorney general, who is currently Jeff Sessions.
Since Sessions has recused himself from the Russia investigation, in this case, the action would have to be taken by deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein.
“He can’t fire Mueller directly,” Braun explained, noting that this would be much more complicated than FBI director James Comey’s dismissal.
Braun added that Rosenstein has indicated that if he’s asked by Trump to fire Mueller, he would resign rather than follow through with the order.
What are the chances Trump will ask for Mueller to be fired?
“There is no intention or plan to make any changes in regards to the special counsel,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters Monday.
But Alan Jacobs, a political science professor at the University of British Columbia, noted that it’s difficult to predict what Trump will do.
WATCH: Manafort indictment has ‘nothing to do’ with Trump or campaign: WH
“I think one thing we’ve learned over the past nine months is that Donald Trump has a tendency to do things that nobody expects.”
Braun added that although it seems unlikely at the moment, “things can change really quickly.”
Is it actually an impeachable offence?
Over the weekend, Congressman Ruben Gallego tweeted that firing Mueller would be an “impeachable offence.”
Jacobs disagreed, explaining that Republicans have control of the decision-making process, and they’re unlikely to impeach Trump for firing Mueller.
“It’s been very striking to see the degree to which Republican elected officials at the national level have been willing to stand with Trump, or keep their mouth shut, as he has done things that by any recent historical standard are quite shocking,” he said.
“So I would hesitate to predict that firing Mueller would suddenly push a large number of Republican members of Congress over the edge.”