Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told members of a Senate appropriations subcommittee that he is the only person who is able to fire special counsel Robert Mueller and that he has seen no reason to do so.
The top Justice Department official overseeing the investigation into Russia also assured senators that Mueller has been granted complete independence to do his work.
Supporters of President Donald Trump floated the idea Monday that Trump should fire Mueller, and Chris Ruddy, a Trump confidant, told reporters after leaving the White House yesterday that Trump was considering doing just that.
Rosenstein appointed Mueller last month to lead the investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s election and potential Trump campaign ties to that effort.
He told senators during a committee hearing that there would have to be “good cause” for Mueller to be removed from his role. When asked by Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., if he’s seen any reason for Mueller to be fired, Rosenstein said, “I have not.”
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, asked Rosenstein if he would fire Mueller if Trump asked him to.
“I’m not going to follow any orders unless they are a lawful order,” Rosenstein responded. The deputy attorney general also said: “I’m confident (Mueller) has full independence.”