Saturday 25 January 2020

Trump ‘considering firing special prosecutor Mueller’, says friend

Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible ties between Donald Trump's campaign and Russia's government, is under fire from the president's allies (AP)
Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible ties between Donald Trump's campaign and Russia's government, is under fire from the president's allies (AP)

Donald Trump is considering “terminating” Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible collusion between Mr Trump’s 2016 campaign team and Russia, a friend of the president has said.

The former FBI director was appointed to the role last month with a remit to look at possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and “related matters”.

“I think he’s considering perhaps terminating the special counsel. I think he’s weighing that option,” Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy said.

The White House did not immediately respond to questions about Mr Ruddy’s claims.

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, responded angrily to the report.

“If President [Trump] fired Bob Mueller, Congress would immediately re-establish independent counsel and appoint Bob Mueller,” Mr Schiff tweeted. “Don’t waste our time.”

Mr Schiff told MSNBC he guessed “this is part of the effort to tear down Robert Mueller”.

“You can’t exclude the possibility [of Mueller’s dismissal], but I think it’s just a way of raising doubts about this man who’s well respected on both sides of the aisle.”

Mr Ruddy’s comments came after a slew of Republican attacks on Mr Mueller over the weekend. Newt Gingrich, one of the president’s most prominent supporters, wrote on Twitter: “Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair. Look who he is hiring. Check fec reports. Time to rethink.”

Conservative pundit Ann Coulter said Attorney General Jeff Sessions “never should’ve recused himself” from the Russia investigation.

“Now that we know Trump is not under investigation, Sessions should take it back and fire Mueller,” she added.

Mr Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation in March after it emerged he twice talked with Russia’s ambassador to Washington during the campaign. Under current Justice Department regulations, such a firing would consequently have to be done by Mr Sessions’ deputy, Rod Rosenstein, not the president – though those regulations could theoretically be set aside.

Mr Sessions offered to resign because of tensions with Mr Trump over his decision to recuse himself, according to reports last week.

The attorney general was set to face tough questions at the open Senate Intelligence Committee hearing yesterday over his dealings with Russian officials during the campaign and whether he had a role in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence committee said Congress would not sit still if President Donald Trump decided to fire the special counsel leading the investigation into Russian interference in the US election and possible collusion with Trump’s campaign.

Mr Schiff, a California Democrat, also said that such a move would “be the last straw” for many in Congress and would have “echoes of Watergate,” when President Richard Nixon dismissed special prosecutor Archibald Cox over Cox’s subpoenas for White House tapes.

But Mr Trump’s allies have begun raising questions about Mr Mueller’s impartiality – he’s a former FBI director who has worked with fired FBI Director James Comey – and floating the idea that Mr Trump might replace him. Mr Schiff says that if Trump fires Mueller, Congress might name its own independent counsel to investigate the case.

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