White House: Donald Trump won't sack special counsel investigating Russian 'meddling'

The deputy attorney general appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel nine days after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who had acknowledged he was leading an investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian Federation.

"Special counsel Mueller may be fired only for good cause", Rosenstein said.

Rosenstein would also have to meet the high standard of "good cause shown", according to University of New Hampshire legal advocacy professor Seth Abramson.

And a person familiar with Trump's thinking said Tuesday morning that it's "unlikely" the President will fire Mueller, but conceded that it's often hard to predict Trump's behavior.

It was Mr Rosenstein who appointed Mr Mueller to the job in the first place, since he took carriage of the Russia investigation from the Attorney-General Jeff Sessions, who was forced to recuse himself because of his own contacts with Russian officials in the lead-up to last year's United States election.

He added later: "As long as I'm in this position, he's not going to be fired without good cause", which he said he would have to put in writing.

The president, therefore, would have to direct Rosenstein to fire Mueller - or, somewhat more extravagantly, Trump could order the special-counsel regulations repealed and then fire Mueller himself. I think it's very clear by what one of his lawyers said on television recently.

"Yes, senator. It's done in the order, which I believe was issued on May 17, and the order references the regulation for which you read, and so that is the source of his authority", Rosenstein said.

Rosenstein may be asked to address the issue when he speaks at a Senate subcommittee hearing Tuesday morning. "With respect to this subject, only the president or his attorneys are authorised to comment".

Said Ryan: "I know Bob Mueller".

Gingrich, who only a few weeks ago called Mueller a "superb choice" with an "impeccable" reputation, tweeted on Monday: "Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair". "The best advice would be to let Robert Mueller do his job", he told reporters.

CNN cited a source close to Trump as saying the president was "being advised by many people" to not fire Mueller, who led the Federal Bureau of Investigation between 2001 and 2013.

For many, the prospect of Mueller's firing immediately brought to mind the 1973 dismissal of special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the Watergate scandal.

"I think he's weighing that option", said Ruddy. But the president and his aides have not definitively said so.

Rosenstein also said that having made political contributions "is not a disqualification" from working for the special counsel leading the Russian Federation investigation. "I never said I had a conversation", Ruddy said on CNN.

Comey said Trump told him he hoped Comey would "let go" of his investigation of the president's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and also asked Comey to pledge his personal loyalty and to "lift the cloud" of the Russian Federation probe. He is the Acting Attorney General in this case.

  • Larry Hoffman