Washington: President Donald Trump is not considering firing the special counsel investigating Russian election interference, a top White House lawyer said after a cascade of Trump tweets revived chatter that the deeply frustrated president may be preparing to get rid of the veteran prosecutor.
The late-Sunday statement from White House lawyer Ty Cobb came after top congressional Republicans warned of repercussions if Trump fired special counsel Robert Mueller, who is looking into contacts between Trump's 2016 campaign and Russia and Russian meddling in the presidential election.
In a series of weekend tweets, Trump jabbed directly at Mueller by name for the first time. The president challenged the investigation's existence and suggested political bias on the part of Mueller's investigators. Trump has long been frustrated by the lengthy and intensifying probe and insists his campaign did not collude with Russia to influence the election in his favour.
"The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime," he said in a late Saturday tweet he ended with "WITCH HUNT!" Likely contributing to Trump's sense of frustration, The New York Times reported last week that Mueller had subpoenaed the Trump Organization for Russia-related documents. Trump had said Mueller would cross a red line with such a step.
"Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans?" he tweeted Sunday.
Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added...does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 18, 2018
Some of Mueller's investigators indeed have contributed to Democratic political candidates, but Justice Department policy and federal service law bar discrimination in the hiring of career positions on the basis of political affiliation. Mueller is a Republican.
The tweets revived talk that Trump may, in an attempt to end the investigation, move to have Mueller fired. Cobb sought to tamp down the speculation.
"In response to media speculation and related questions being posed to the Administration, the White House yet again confirms that the president is not considering or discussing the firing of the Special Counsel, Robert Mueller," he said.
Earlier Sunday, members of Congress, including some top Republicans, warned Trump to not even think about terminating Mueller.
"If he tried to do that, that would be the beginning of the end of his presidency," said Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican- South Carolina, a Trump ally.
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Updated Date: Mar 19, 2018 21:55:12 IST