Published: Sat, June 17, 2017
World Media | By Joan Schultz

White House Torn Over Mueller's Role As Pressure Grows

White House Torn Over Mueller's Role As Pressure Grows

High-profile supporters of Donald Trump are turning on special counsel Robert Mueller, the man charged with investigating Russian interference in the United States election and possible collusion with Trump's campaign, with one friend of the president floating the possibility he could fire Mueller.

"The Attorney General may remove a Special Counsel for misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause, including violation of Departmental policies".

"Considering the unique circumstances of this matter, I have determined that a special counsel is necessary in order for the American people to have full confidence in the outcome", Rosenstein said in a statement back then.

Chris Ruddy, an ABC News contributor and a longtime friend of Trump and the CEO of the conservative media company Newsmax, first told PBS in an interview Monday that the president is "considering, perhaps, terminating the special counsel, he's weighing that option".

Under Department of Justice rules, it is actually up to the deputy attorney general to make that call, though the president could bypass that protocol.

Now, Trump could order Rosenstein to fire Mueller.

Schiff later said he wouldn't be surprised if Trump was considering ousting Mueller.

Rosenstein testified that he is the only one who has the authority to fire Mueller, who was appointed following the May 9 ousting of James Comey as Federal Bureau of Investigation director, and that he had seen no good cause to do so.

A White House official stressed that Ruddy "speaks for himself", not the Trump administration. That, to me, is the smartest thing to do, the best thing to do, and that's what I think hopefully will happen.

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"The letter that I signed represented my views that had been formulated for some time", said Sessions during his testimony.

In that role, Rosenstein has the authority to fire Mueller under some circumstances.

According to Ruddy, there was a meeting between Trump and Mueller just days before he was appointed as the independent counsel to the investigation.

Tuesday morning, Trump supporter Ari Fleischer, who served as President George W. Bush's press secretary, again highlighted the issue of Mueller's probe being handled by attorneys who have donated mostly to Democrats, a message that Donald Trump Jr. quickly retweeted to his own 1.7 million followers.

White House staffers made a concerted effort to talk Trump down from ordering that Mueller be fired, the paper said.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich led one line of attack with a tweet that said "Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair". Also, some of his newly appointed prosecutors have donated to both former President Barack Obama's and 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's election campaigns in the past.

Rosenstein had gone before the Committee's Senate counterpart earlier in the day.

He said Attorney General Jeff Sessions is not involved in the Russian Federation probe and has not been briefed on it since his recusal.

It was not clear whether Mr Ruddy, who speaks to the president often, was basing his remarks on a specific conversation with him or entirely on Mr Sekulow's comments.

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