American Bar Association (ABA)
By Debra Cassens Weiss
Posted Jun 13, 2017 08:42 am CDT
Updated: A friend of President Donald Trump told PBS on Monday that he thinks the president is considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller.
Newsmax Media chief executive Christopher Ruddy made the comment on the News Hour program, report the New York Times and the Washington Post.
"I think he’s considering perhaps terminating the special counsel," Ruddy said. "I think he’s weighing that option."
But Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told a Senate appropriations subcommittee on Tuesday that "there is no secret plan [to remove Mueller] that involves me," USA Today reports. Rosenstein said Trump has not raised the issue of the special counsel with him and has not discussed Mueller’s tenure.
Rosenstein said he appointed Mueller and he stands by the decision. "I will defend the integrity of that investigation," Rosenstein said.
Ruddy told PBS that Trump was considering the dismissal because of concerns about conflicts of interest. Trump had interviewed Mueller to replace James Comey as FBI director, and his law firm represents members of Trump’s family, according to Ruddy.
Nonetheless, Ruddy said firing Mueller would be "a very significant mistake."
Ruddy appeared to be basing his assessment on comments by Jay Sekulow, a member of Trump’s personal legal team, on ABC News on Sunday, according to the Post. Sekulow said he wasn’t going to speculate on whether the president might order Mueller’s firing.
But Ruddy said on PBS that Trump’s weighing of whether to fire Mueller was "pretty clear by what one of his lawyers said on television recently."
White House press secretary Sean Spicer later released a statement saying that Ruddy "never spoke to the president regarding this issue."
"With respect to this subject, only the president or his attorneys are authorized to comment," Spicer said.
But Ruddy isn’t the only Trump supporter who has raised the idea of firing Mueller. Some have questioned whether Mueller is too close to Comey.
In a tweet on Monday, former House speaker Newt Gingrich wrote, "Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair." He elaborated on Tuesday in interviews on CBS This Morning and Good Morning America.
Mueller "apparently couldn’t find a single pro-Trump attorney to hire, and I just think that’s a rigged game, and I think that it’s a mistake to pretend this is going to be some neutral investigation," he told CBS.
Gingrich added that Trump is "actually pretty confident" in the investigation and "ultimately, he’s still going to be president and this stuff is all going to go away." Read online
Typo corrected in fourth to the last paragraph at 10:40 a.m. Updated at 11:15 a.m. to include new information and comment from Rosenstein.