White House denies Trump wants Mueller out, but heat's on

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Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in separate testimony Tuesday that there was no "secret plan" to fire Mueller, nor was there cause.

Among the aides most alarmed by the idea of firing Mueller, according to people familiar with the situation, was Reince Priebus, the White House chief of staff, whom Democrats mocked earlier this week for publicly saying he feels "blessed" to serve Trump.

But expressions of discontent with Mueller are bubbling up nonetheless. "I do believe he has a legal right to do it and I do think it was considered as an option, as the president's own attorney said".

They say Trump did not collude with Russian Federation and see the investigation as a politically motivated sham that handicaps Trump's ability to execute his agenda, according to one person who advises the White House on how to handle the probe.

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

Former FBI Director James Comey is sworn in during a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, Thursday, June 8, 2017, in Washington.

Anxiety about the probe - and fresh concerns about the political leanings of some of the attorneys involved - is percolating in the West Wing of the White House.

Trump, angered by reports in Breitbart News and other conservative news media that Mueller was close to James Comey, the FBI director he had fired, repeatedly brought up the political and legal implications of firing someone he viewed as incapable of an impartial investigation.

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

The source of the media's furious reporting, Chris Ruddy actually sat down with White House Correspondent Kristen Welker for NBC Nightly News.

In Ruddy's interview with PBS, he suggested the president should fire Mueller as special counsel. But she said today, as she has said before, that while the president has the power to fire Mueller he has no intention of doing so. The person demanded anonymity to discuss strategy on the sensitive matter.

If Mueller knew he was going to be named special counsel, it is unlikely he divulged that information to Trump.

In recent days, the president has told his staff, his visitors, and his outside advisers that he was increasingly convinced Mueller, like Comey, his successor as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, was part of a "witch hunt" by partisans who wanted to see him weakened or forced from office. The Washington Post first reported that revelation.

Neither Trump nor Attorney General Jeff Sessions has offered public support for Mueller.

Mr. Rosenstein was not initially slated to testify Tuesday, but appeared after the hearing's previously scheduled witness, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, canceled in lieu of speaking before the Senate Intelligence Committee with respect to the Trump administration and its purported ties to Russian Federation, as well the president's abrupt firing last month of former FBI Director James Comey.

But Stephen Gillers, a New York University professor who specializes in legal and judicial ethics, said the Mueller interview with Trump presented "no conflict whatsoever".

The order from the general counsel for the transition team casts a wide net on documents that could shed light on ties between Trump's presidential campaign and representatives of Russia's government. Still, Gingrich said any special counsel with an agenda can "all of the sudden find something procedural and technical to latch onto".

The 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. Sessions recused himself from investigations related to the Trump campaign in February, a move that also provoked Trump's ire. The outlet also said the probe now also includes a look at any financial crimes by Trump associates. "I think he's weighing that option".

Former FBI Director details meetings with Trump. "I don't question his integrity at all, but he has to be careful not to create the impression of partiality".



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