AG Rosenstein sees no reason to fire Mueller

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High-profile supporters of President Donald Trump are turning on special counsel Robert Mueller, the man charged with investigating Russian interference in the US election and possible collusion with Trump's campaign.

On Monday night, Chris Ruddy, a friend of President Trump's, told "PBS NewsHour" host Judy Woodruff that the president was "considering perhaps terminating the special counsel" appointed to oversee the Russian Federation investigation, Robert Mueller.

Deputy acting attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the Justice Department's investigation into Russian Federation because attorney general has recused himself, has the power to fire Mueller.

The suggestion that the scope of Mueller's investigation may extend beyond the Trump campaign's activity to the recent firing of the FBI Director would indicate that the special counsel could be looking into a possible cover-up.

Some rank-and-file Republicans on Tuesday voiced concerns that ousting Mueller a month after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey would appear as obstruction of justice.

When West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin asked Rosenstein if Mueller could be "terminated without cause", Rosenstein said "yes".

"I don't think Trump should do anything but the congressional Republicans ought to look into it", Gingrich said.

However, top White House aides were able to talk him off the ledge, pointing out to POTUS that it would make things far worse for him. Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel about a week later.

Deputy Attorney General Rob Rosenstein was praised for the Mueller appointment.

In the interview, Mr Ruddy said Mr Trump had considered replacing Mr Comey with Mr Mueller, who served as Federal Bureau of Investigation director during the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations.

White House officials said late Monday that Ruddy was at the Executive Mansion that day, but said he hadn't met with the president and never spoke with him about the issue.

However, another Republican, current House Speaker Paul Ryan, told reporters, "I think in the best case for the president is to be vindicated by allowing this investigation to go on fairly and independently".

Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment on Ruddy's remarks.

On Trump's plane ride home after a trip to Wisconsin, Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters he "has no intention" of firing Mueller, even though she maintained that "the president has the right to". The person demanded anonymity to discuss strategy on the sensitive matter.

Asked what he would do if the president ordered him to fire Mueller, Rosenstein said, "I'm not going to follow any orders unless I believe those are lawful and appropriate orders".

Still, Trump's allies are looking to sow doubt, pointing to donations some on Mueller's team have made to Democrats. The option is still on the table, but Ruddy's move takes away the president's element of surprise.

Mueller's hiring was meant to ensure the probe would be conducted without interference.

Only a few days before the 45th anniversary of the Watergate break-in, could President Trump really be contemplating a reenactment of one of the most notorious episodes of that scandal: President Richard M. Nixon's firing of Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor who was investigating the cover-up of that "third-rate burglary", a power play that also cost the president his attorney general and deputy attorney general?

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