Deputy Attorney General: Donald Trump can't fire special counsel Robert Mueller


First, in response to questioning from Sen.

The responsibility for appointing (or theoretically firing) Mueller lies with Rosenstein because his boss, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, recused himself in March from all investigations involving Russian Federation and the 2016 elections.

ROSENSTEIN: Yes that's correct.

In 1973, amid the Watergate scandal, President Richard Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox. Rosenstein noted that the chain of command would have to run through him and said he was confident Mueller would have "sufficient independence".

She said Mr Trump was not able to watch much of Mr Sessions' testimony, but he thought Mr Sessions "did a very good job" and was especially "strong" on denying any collusion between Mr Trump's campaign and Russian Federation.

There had been some question as to whether the hearing would be open to the public, but the Justice Department said Monday he requested it be so because he "believes it is important for the American people to hear the truth directly from him". But no. The president's friends are now pressing the argument that Mueller must go, too.

ROSENSTEIN: No, he has not. And in a certain sense, Trump doesn't have the ability to directly fire Mueller.

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"I'm not going to follow any orders unless I believe those are proper and appropriate orders", he said. He fired former NY U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara while his office was investigating the Russian Federation scandal. I would say that Republicans in Washington are nearly unanimous in the opinion that to do that would cause a political firestorm that would be yet another self-inflicted wound of the president's own making.

I can assure you that it's important to me that it be done expeditiously, and I communicated that to Director Mueller, and I'm sure he also appreciates the importance of moving as quickly as we can. He asserted that "I am protecting the right of the president to assert if it he chooses and there may be other privileges that may apply".

Rosenstein said that if he fired Mueller, he would be required to explain it in writing.

So, Rosenstein continues, his determination on whether to carry out an order to fire Mueller depends on his judgment about whether there is good cause for him to do so. If Trump knows that neither he nor those close to him did anything wrong, it would be in his and their interest for Mueller to remain and clear him.

Similarly, the comic opera surrounding Trump's threat that he possesses White House tapes of meetings with former FBI Director James Comey would be interpreted by many legal authorities as an attempt to intimidate and influence the testimony of a key witness.

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, an informal adviser to the President, questioned whether the special counsel investigation would be impartial.

There's growing concern among legal experts that Mueller can't be objective toward Trump given his close friendship with fired Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey and the fact that many of his staffers are Democrats who have donated to the campaigns of leftist politicians.