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January 2018


How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Trump Ordered the Firing of Mueller But Backed Off White House Attorney Threatened to Quit

Special counsel Robert Mueller

By Steve Neavling

President Trump in June ordered the firing of the special counsel appointed several weeks earlier to investigate ties between Trump’s campaign and Russia, but he backed off after the White House counsel threatened to resign to avoid handling a legally dubious task that could endanger the presidency.

The New York Times reported that Trump demanded the termination of Mueller, who was appointed in May by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. 

Rod Rosenstein, deputy attorney general.

At the time, Trump, who has repeatedly claimed he had no plans to intervene in the probe, argued Mueller was incapable of conducting an impartial investigation because of several alleged cases of conflicts of interest, including a dispute over fees that Mueller owed at Trump golf club in Sterling, Va.

White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II declined to ask the Justice Department to fire the special counsel and threatened to quit, saying the president’s allegations of conflicts of interest were not strong enough to hold up in court and could have a catastrophic effect on the presidency. The termination, he added, would give the appearance that Trump was trying to obstruct the Russia probe.

McGahn, a longtime Republican campaign finance lawyer, served as the lead lawyer for Trump’s campaign.

Trump then backed off.

The president’s meddling in the investigation has made him a target of the probe since firing then-FBI Director James Comey. Also this week came revelations that Trump had asked the acting FBI director, Andrew McCabe, whom he voted for in the presidential election. Axios also reported this week that the Trump administration pressured the president’s new FBI director Chris Wray to fire McCabe. Wray responded that he would resign before firing his deputy director without just cause.

Mueller is expected to soon question Trump about the firing of Comey to determine whether the president tried to obstruct justice.

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