Rosenstein Says He Won't Fire Special Counsel Unless There's Good Cause

US President Donald Trump is considering terminating special counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed to lead the FBI investigation into Russia's alleged ties to the 2016 US presidential election.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein affirmed his support for Russian Federation special counsel Robert Mueller on Tuesday, despite recent suggestions that President Trump was weighing Mueller's dismissal.

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

"I think that Mueller shouldn't have taken the position", Ruddy said, "if he was under consideration and had a private conversation with the president and was privy maybe to some of his thoughts about that investigation or other matters before the bureau".

"The chain of command for the special counsel is only directly to the attorney general - and in this case, the acting attorney general", he said. Rosenstein responded: "No I have not".

Asked if he had confidence in Robert Mueller, the special counsel appointed to lead the Russian Federation investigation, Mr Sessions replied: "I have confidence in Mr Mueller but I am not going to discuss any hypotheticals", noting that he was not involved in the Russian Federation investigation.

The public testimony Tuesday before the Senate Intelligence committee should yield Sessions' most extensive comments to date on questions that have dogged his tenure as attorney general and that led him three months ago to recuse himself from the Russian Federation probe.

In his dramatic appearance before former colleagues, Sessions also contradicted a contention made by former FBI Director James Comey at a hearing before the same panel last week.

Mr Ruddy appeared to be basing his remarks, at least in part, on comments from Jay Sekulow, a member of Mr Trump's legal team, who told ABC in an interview on Sunday that he was "not going to speculate" on whether Mr Trump might at some point order Mr Rosenstein to fire Mr Mueller. "But we also have a duty to serve the people that elected us to fix the problems that they are confronting in their daily lives and that's what we're doing". He said Trump is "actually pretty confident" that "ultimately, he's still going to be president and this stuff is all going to go away". "I personally think it would be a significant mistake, even though I don't think there is a justification [for a special counsel]". "If there were not good cause, it wouldn't matter to me what anybody says".

Mr Sessions was revealed to have met the Russian ambassador twice past year, meetings that he did not indicate during the Senate confirmation hearing approving his appointment.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the move would be a "disaster" and, he added, "There's no reason to fire Mueller".

McConnell told reporters Tuesday that "I have a lot of confidence in Bob Mueller".

In his Senate testimony last week, Comey said Trump requested loyalty from him and asked that he drop an investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy stood by his claims after the White House downplayed his comments and suggested he did not know what he was talking about.

Some Republicans have suggested that Mueller may have a conflict of interest because of his close relationship with former FBI Director James Comey, whom Trump fired last month.

During a hearing on Tuesday (Wednesday NZT) before a joint House and Senate appropriations subcommittee, Rosenstein was asked whether he had seen any evidence of that.

Apart from Rosenstein and Sessions, the only confirmed Justice official is Rachel Brand, the associate attorney general, whom the Senate approved on a party-line vote.

  • Zachary Reyes