White House torn over Mueller's role as pressure grows

Donald Trump

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Tuesday that he isn't involved in any secret plan to fire special counsel Robert Mueller. So that is what I would do. "As long as I'm in this position, he will not be fired if not for good cause", he said.

Previously, a close friend of Trump and the CEO of the conservative media company Newsmax Chris Ruddy told "PBS NewsHour" in an interview Monday that the president is "considering, perhaps, terminating the special counsel, he's weighing that option." Mr.

On Tuesday, Rosenstein also indicated his conversations with Sessions prior to Comey's dismissal could be a part of Mueller's probe.

But after the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey last week, Gingrich said he'd changed his mind.

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.

Dianne Feinstein, top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said she was "increasingly concerned" that Trump will fire both Mueller and Rosenstein.

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

The responsibility for appointing (or theoretically firing) Mueller lies with Rosenstein because his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, recused himself in March from all investigations involving Russian Federation and the 2016 elections.

Rosenstein was asked about it and answered this way, "You have my assurance that Director Muller will have the full degree of independence that he needs to conduct the investigation".

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said Tuesday that Trump called him Monday night because of Gingrich's concerns about the Russian Federation probe.

In his special counsel role, Mueller has assumed all the powers of a federal prosecutor - including subpoena authority.

"I never claimed that I had spoken with the president", Ruddy said. "With respect to this subject, only the president or his attorneys are authorized to comment".

Democratic senators repeatedly criticized Sessions for dispatching Rosenstein to testify today in his place about the Justice Department's budget to an Appropriations subcommittee. White House frustrations with the Justice Department spilled into public view last week, when Trump on Twitter criticized the legal strategy in defending his proposed travel ban. "And the next day he's now maybe using some of that information in his investigation".

Starr, however, warned that Mueller should be careful not to "wander outside the bounds of professionalism and basic integrity" - as those would be grounds to fire him. They have tried to highlight the positive reviews he received Wednesday when he made a statesman-like appearance in the White House to address the nation after Rep. Steve Scalise was shot during a congressional baseball practice.

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