No longer out of bounds: Trump allies question Mueller probe

Marcus Newton
June 16, 2017

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence committee says Congress would not sit still if President Donald Trump made a decision to fire the special counsel leading the investigation into Russian interference in the USA election and possible collusion with Trump's campaign.

Rosenstein's letter critical of Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email server investigation served as the Trump White House's first reasoning for firing Comey - though Trump later undercut that explanation by saying he fired Comey in hopes of ending the Russian Federation probe.

Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, a friend of the president, told PBS' host Judy Woodruff on "NewsHour" that Mr. Trump was considering "perhaps terminating the special counsel".

President Donald Trump slammed special counsel Robert Mueller's expanding probe on Thursday, calling the inquiry into whether he obstructed justice a "phony story" and "the single greatest WITCH HUNT in American political history". The White House clarification has come amidst reports that Trump is contemplating firing Mueller.

After President Donald Trump's friend, Chris Ruddy, said Monday night that Trump is considering firing Mueller, Rosenstein said in a Senate appropriations subcommittee hearing that Mueller can "only be fired for good cause", and it would be his job to put that good cause into writing. CNN has reported at the time that the White House was given only a brief heads up that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was naming Mueller to oversee Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential collusion from Trump's campaign associates.

Conservative commentator Ann Coulter offered a similar message, tweeting, "Now that we know TRUMP IS NOT UNDER INVESTIGATION, Sessions should take it back & fire Mueller".

That statement was unlikely to quell criticism of Mueller from some of Trump's closest allies - including one of his sons.

After initially being praised by Republicans and Democrats for his integrity, Mueller has had his impartiality as special counsel questioned by some Trump supporters in recent days.

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One of Trump's attorneys, Jay Sekulow, first raised doubt on the issue Sunday, when he wouldn't rule out the possibility the president could dismiss Mueller.

Speaking from the Senate floor Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he was "frankly disturbed" by Trump's "hard right" supporters attempting to "discredit" Mueller and "sully his reputation". The attorney general is expected to be closely questioned about his contacts with Kislyak and his role in last month's firing Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey.

Gingrich and Ruddy said it would be a "mistake" for Trump to remove Mueller, although both said they see the probe as unnecessary. Gingrich said he is troubled by Democratic donations of Mueller's picks to help lead the probe.

The new talk about dismissing Mueller appeared to be coming from Trump allies - including some close to White House strategist Steve Bannon - who are increasingly frustrated with the prospect of a long and winding probe.

"There is no secret plan that involves me", Rosenstein said. Susan Collins, R-Maine, Rosenstein said, "Senator, I'm not going to follow any order unless I believe those are lawful and appropriate orders".

"I never said I spoke to the President", he added. Ruddy later confirmed the comment to CNN.

"We may have our differences, but we do well in times like these to remember that everyone who serves in our nation's capital is here because above all they love our country", Trump said at the White House.

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