White House torn over Mueller's role as pressure grows

Alicia Cross
June 16, 2017

In what has ignited another firestorm of debate in polarized Washington, a longtime friend of President Trump said Monday night that Trump is "weighing" whether to dismiss Robert Mueller, the Justice Department special counsel investigating possible ties between the Russian government and the Trump campaign. Atty. Gen. Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the investigation and is testifying Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

PBS' Judy Woodruff reported Monday that Trump friend Chris Ruddy told her after visiting the White House that Trump is "considering perhaps terminating" Mueller - a decision that would set off a massive political backlash.

The questioning about whether the White House was seeking to oust Mueller came as top conservative boosters of Trump sought to delegitimize Mueller, a former FBI director who took the special counsel job after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer did not explicitly endorse Sessions' appearance, saying in response to a question, "We're aware of it, and we'll go from there". Some of Trump's allies now claim the results Mueller comes up with in the Russian Federation investigation will be tainted and biased due to Mueller's relationship with Comey and Mueller's hiring of several attorneys to help him with the investigation that the Trump boosters deem to be partisan.

Republicans in Congress are also shaking off the notion that Trump could fire Mueller.

Trump can not directly dismiss Mueller.

Just weeks ago, Gingrich had heaped praise on Mueller, hailing him as a "superb choice" for special counsel whose reputation was "impeccable for honesty and integrity".

"I think that he should be more cognizant of making sure that the people who come to work with him are non-partisan, for his own credibility", Bennett said of Mueller. 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.

Sessions' appearance before the intelligence committee is an indication of just how much the Russian Federation investigation has shaded his tenure.

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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. The person demanded anonymity to discuss strategy on the sensitive matter.

"Director Mueller is going to have the full independence he needs to conduct that investigation, " Rosenstein said.

Ruddy noted Tuesday morning in an email to Politico that Spicer "doesn't deny my claim the President is considering firing Mueller" and that Ruddy never claimed to have spoken with Trump about Mueller.

"I am thrilled to have a chance to help you to live up to your campaign promises", said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

"Look, the president of the United States, as we all know, is a unitary executive".

It wasn't clear whether Ruddy, who speaks with the president often, was basing his remarks on a specific conversation with the president or entirely on Sekulow's comments.

"With respect to this subject, only the president or his attorneys are authorized to comment", he continued.

"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.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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