Published: Thu, June 15, 2017
World | By Paul Elliott

White House torn over Mueller's role as pressure grows

The only man who can fire special counsel Robert Mueller, the man charged with investigating Russian interference in the USA election and possible collusion with Trump's campaign, says he sees no good cause to do so.

In his testimony on June 8, Comey told the Senate Intelligence Committee that he believed Trump had fired him over his role as lead of the FBI investigation into Russian interference in the US election and Trump campaign associates' possible ties to Russia. Another reason is Republicans cower in fear of Fox hosts who are not in the News department that GOP members refuse to keep a distance from the president. "As long as I'm in this position, he will not be fired if not for good cause", he said. The special counsel, who reports to the attorney general, serves at the pleasure of the president. Coats largely declined to answer those questions in a public hearing last week, but he said he would say more in a closed session if he received clearance from the White House.

Trump can not directly dismiss Mueller. Investigators also are examining whether Trump campaign associates colluded in any way with Russian intelligence.

"You're creating a debate that's not happening", said House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy on Tuesday morning, responding to a reporter's question about the rumor. He said Trump had called him Monday night and that the two discussed Gingrich's concerns about the probe.

"I think he's considering perhaps terminating the special counsel", Ruddy said in an interview with Judy Woodruff of "PBS NewsHour".

Firing Mr Mueller would be politically explosive and would raise new questions about Mr Trump, whose dismissal of Mr James Comey as Federal Bureau of Investigation chief led to charges of obstruction of justice - and to Mr Mueller's appointment.

Mueller has wide authority to look into matters related to Russian election meddling, including collusion with Trump operatives, financial links between Trump and Russia and whether the president tried to obstruct the inquiry.

Asked if he would fire Mueller on the president's orders, he said: "I'm not going to follow any orders unless I believe those are lawful and appropriate orders".

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

In 1973, amid the Watergate scandal, President Richard Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Trump disputed, though, Comey's assertion he had asked for a pledge of loyalty. Days after that happened, Trump told NBC News' Lester Holt that the Russian Federation investigation played a role in his decision to terminate him, and he has dismissed the probe as "fake news".

The comments come amid increasing frustration at the White House and among Trump supporters that the investigation will overshadow the president's agenda for months to come - a prospect that has Democrats salivating.

"If there were not good cause, it wouldn't matter to me what anybody says".

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