Deputy AG Rosenstein: Special counsel will have 'full independence' for Russian Federation probe

Can President Donald Trump dismiss special counsel Robert Mueller, who is appointed to lead the FBI investigation into Russia's potential ties to the 2016 election? She noted that Fox News' John Roberts reported that Ruddy got this information from an interview with Trump supporter and attorney Jay Sekulow, which Ruddy apparently misinterpreted.

On Sunday, Rep. Adam Schiff, D-California, the ranking member of the House Committee on Intelligence, said that if Mueller were fired, Congress would rehire him again as an independent counsel beyond the reach of the president or Department of Justice.

But Republican former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who initially praised Mueller's selection, said he has changed his mind because the special counsel is hiring some "bad people". Ruddy, who met with undisclosed officials at the White House on Monday, also said his own sources indicated Trump was considering having Mueller removed. An order from the president would not necessarily qualify, he said.

Trump interviewed Mueller for the director's position days before Rosenstein picked Mueller as special counsel for the Russian Federation probe, Sanders confirmed Tuesday.

But a long-time friend of Mr Trump said the president was considering sacking Mr Mueller. Representative Adam Schiff, the Democratic ranking member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, which is overseeing its own probe into the Russian Federation matter, tweeted, "If President fired Bob Mueller, Congress would immediately re-establish independent counsel and appoint Bob Mueller".

The White House did not immediately respond to questions about Ruddy's claims.

"I think he's weighing that option", Ruddy said.

Rosenstein made the remark at a hearing before the House and Senate Budget Appropriations Committees after being asked by Republican Sen. "Director Mueller is going to have the full degree of independence that he needs to conduct that investigation appropriately", he told senators. Muller was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, and Trump could order Rosenstein to fire him or he could order that regulations that govern the appointment be repealed and then fire Mueller himself.

And given both men have accused each other of lying, Mr Trump's offer to testify before Mr Mueller could set up a scenario where the President himself is accused of perjury.

Mr Rosenstein has also acknowledged that "theoretically" Mr Mueller could be removed from the position as special counsel, potentially undermining his investigation.

As expected, Mr Sessions also addressed a claim by former Federal Bureau of Investigation chief James Comey during his testimony to the committee last week that he had expressed his concern about a meeting with Donald Trump on February 14th to the attorney general but that Mr Sessions had not replied. Whether he would do it is ultimately a decision the President makes.

Even so, Gingrich said, Trump won't seek to dismiss Mueller because he's confident the probe will conclude he's done nothing wrong.

Sessions says his recusal was not because he had done something wrong or was, himself, the subject of the investigation.

Donald Trump has called the ongoing investigation a "witch hunt", a "hoax" and an excuse by Democrats for why they lost the presidential race.

"There is no secret plan that involves me", Rosenstein said.

  • Salvatore Jensen