'Trump is considering firing Mueller as special counsel'

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says that a history of political giving is not a disqualifier for those who work for the Department of Justice's special counsel investigating Russian interference in USA elections. Because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian Federation probe, the responsibility would fall to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who Trump could order to fire Mueller.

Under Justice Department regulations created to ensure a measure of independence for the special counsel, Rosenstein may only fire Mueller for "good cause".

But Sanders would not say whether Trump had confidence in Mueller amid news reports that the president was considering whether to fire him from the post. He said there is no cause to consider removal, and that that the Attorney General's office alone would make that decision with the special counsel. And since Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the investigation, Rosenstein is acting in that capacity.

Now Mr. Gingrich has been joined in this chorus by a Trump confidant and golf-buddy, the President of Newsmax, who says the President is contemplating firing Mueller.

During testimony to a budget panel Rosenstein said he has seen no cause for Mueller's dismissal and that he will be given "full independence" from the Department of Justice to conduct his investigation.

"I'm not going to follow any orders unless I believe those are lawful and appropriate orders", Rosenstein said.

Rosenstein offered his assurances as USA news accounts quoted Republican allies of Trump suggesting that the president is considering firing Mueller, whose appointment last month drew widespread praise from both Republicans and opposition Democrats.

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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.

Mueller was already granted a waiver by the Justice Department to lead the investigation despite a possible conflict of interest stemming from his law firm's representation of some of the people caught up in the investigation, including former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich led one line of attack with a tweet that said "Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair".

On Tuesday night White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters flying with Trump on Air Force One that the president wasn't going to fire Mueller, tamping down such rumors. Ruddy said Tuesday that he stands by his comments. The Times reported Trump had been bothered by conservative news reports that Mueller was close to James Comey, the Federal Bureau of Investigation director whom Trump fired in May. He told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" that "I don't think the Congress would sit still and allow the president to pick his own investigator".

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said on June 6 that he had "not discussed" whether Trump felt comfortable with Mueller as special counsel.

"I don't know who you're talking to because I've had great with the president through many years", Ruddy said. Still, Gingrich said any special counsel with an agenda can "all of the sudden find something procedural and technical to latch onto".

  • Adam Floyd