The night before Tuesday's senate intelligence committee hearing with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the sudden question of whether President Donald Trump might fire Federal Bureau of Investigation special counsel Robert Mueller prompted alarm from Democrats and notes of caution from Republicans.
President Trump was considering firing Robert Mueller as special counsel leading the investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election but was talked down by top aides, according to a new report.
The issue is the focus of attention following remarks Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, a close Trump friend and adviser, made in an interview with Judy Woodruff on PBS Newshour on Monday. The attorney general, Elliot Richardson, resigned rather than doing so, putting the onus on deputy attorney general William Ruckelshaus, who also chose to resign.
"As long as I'm in this position, he's not going to be fired without good cause", Rosenstein said.
"We also were aware of facts that I can't discuss in an open setting that would make his continued engagement in a Russia-related investigation problematic", Comey said.
Sessions was supposed to testify before the appropriations committee, as past attorneys general have, but on Saturday, Sessions wrote the chairmen of both committees and said he was sending his deputy attorney general to testify in his place.
Schiff says that if Trump fires Mueller, Congress might name its own independent counsel to investigate the case.
Susan Collins of Maine what he would do if Trump ordered him to fire Mueller, Rosenstein said, "Senator, I'm not going to follow any orders unless I believe those are lawful and appropriate orders". Regulations say the prosecutor can be removed on grounds of "misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause, including violation of Departmental policies", and the termination must be in writing. She went on to clarify that Rosenstein had the hiring and firing power, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself in March from anything related to the Russian Federation investigation.
Speaking earlier, House Speaker Paul Ryan said politicians should allow the special counsel to do his work.
Rosenstein's testimony comes amid public statements from Trump confidants that the American president is mulling removing Mueller from the investigation. Gingrich said he is troubled by Democratic donations of Mueller's picks to help lead the probe.
In a panel discussion over the weekend on "Fox News Sunday", former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called Mueller's investigation "a witch hunt." The Times report said that Trump considered firing Mueller, something TheDC's source confirmed.
Could the president get rid of the independent counsel leading the Russian Federation investigation?
"Look, the president of the United States, as we all know, is a unitary executive. Former Speaker-if you want to see the President on a fast track to impeachment, then he should take this advice and fire Mueller".
On ABC, Gingrich said Mueller's team of lawyers are "bad people" and it is "delusional" to think Mueller's team could be fair to Trump.
"I can't imagine that that issue is going to arise", he added.
Last night, a longtime friend of President Trump, Christopher Ruddy, said the president is considering firing Mueller. Ruddy did not immediately respond to questions seeking clarification.