Senior White House aides pushed back on a claim Monday that President Donald Trump is considering directing the deputy attorney general to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is currently leading the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Chris Ruddy, a close friend of Trump and the CEO of the conservative media company Newsmax, first told PBS that the president is “considering, perhaps, terminating the special counsel, he’s weighing that option.”
Ruddy later clarified to ABC News that Trump is “considering asking [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein to terminate Mueller.” Such a firing must come from the attorney general, according to the Code of Federal Regulations, which would be Rosenstein, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself.
The notion was dismissed by senior White House aides later Monday evening, who said that Ruddy does not speak for the president. Though Ruddy was at the White House earlier in the day, those aides said he did not meet with Trump, but White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, a former conservative media leader himself.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said: “Mr. Ruddy never spoke to the President regarding this issue. With respect to this subject, only the President or his attorneys are authorized to comment.”
Mueller, a former FBI director, was appointed as a special counsel in May after the firing of his bureau successor James Comey, and continued questions about the impartiality of the investigation into potential collusion between Russian meddling efforts and the Trump campaign.
SOURCE: CECILIA VEGA and KATHERINE FAULDERS