WashPost: Trump May Be Laying Groundwork to Fire Mueller

Elias Hubbard
June 19, 2017

Mueller continues to hire a team of lawyers, and with FBI investigators is gathering information that is widely expected to lead to a formal investigation into whether President Trump attempted to interfere in the investigation.

In a series of tweets, Trump lashed out against the investigation into whether his campaign colluded with Russian Federation to influence the 2016 election.

Hours earlier, Trump posted his usual volley of pre-dawn tweets calling the investigation a "witch hunt".

One source said Rosenstein has yet to formally ask career attorneys inside the Justice Department for their opinion on whether he should recuse himself. Rosenstein in a memo to Trump raised concerns over FBI Director James Comey.

HORSLEY: No. I don't know what explains this statement. Grassley's office said the letter is in response to a recent letter from Feinstein requesting that the committee seek details from senior Federal Bureau of Investigation leadership about Comey's interactions with President Donald Trump before he was sacked.

The Democratic National Committee said it saw a need for Rosenstein to recuse himself, but it said control over the investigation should be given to Mueller and not another Trump appointee. If Trump fired Rosenstein, Brand might resign because she and Rosenstein were nominated together, have a close working relationship and went through their confirmation hearings as a team.

Aides have counseled the president to stay off Twitter and focus on other aspects of his job.

Trump took to his Twitter account Thursday morning to denounce the report. The New York Times, meanwhile, added that the special counsel "has requested interviews with three high-ranking current or former intelligence officials, the latest indication that he will investigate whether President Trump obstructed justice". But last night Rosenstein issued this rather unusual statement saying Americans should be skeptical about news accounts of an investigation that are based on anonymous allegations. If he fires Sessions, Rosenstein would become acting attorney general until the Senate confirms a permanent replacement.

The transition official spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to discuss post-election decisions publicly.

Trump criticized an unnamed "man who told me to fire ..." What is clear is that he could order the Justice Department to ax Mueller, which may result in Rosenstein's departure and would certainly intensify the uproar over the investigation. Critics argued Comey's dismissal amounted to obstruction because the FBI was in the midst of their investigation into Trump's campaign.

Robert Mueller, the special counsel named by the department to investigate the Russian Federation matter, is now examining whether Trump or others sought to obstruct the probe, a person familiar with the inquiry said on Thursday.

If Rosenstein were to recuse himself, the responsibility of overseeing the special counsel would fall to the department's third-highest-ranking official, Rachel Lee Brand, who was confirmed a month ago to be associate attorney general.

Intially, the Trump administration pointed to that memo to justify Comey's firing.

Pence has seldom addressed the Russian Federation issue, which has overshadowed Trump's efforts to overhaul the healthcare system, cut taxes and boost jobs - priorities that Pence has worked on intensively with Republican lawmakers.

Citing a memo from the general counsel's office of Trump's transition team, the Times said members were given the order on Thursday for any information involving Russian Federation or Ukraine in the latest sign of the investigation's expanding reach.

The White House has directed questions to outside legal counsel, which has not responded.

Vice President Mike Pence has also hired a private lawyer to represent his interests in the expanding probe. Pence headed the Trump transition until inauguration day.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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