Published: Mon, June 19, 2017
USA | By Kelli Rowe

US Democrats Warn Trump Against Firing Special Counsel Mueller

US Democrats Warn Trump Against Firing Special Counsel Mueller

President Donald Trump acknowledged on Friday he is under investigation in a probe of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential race and possible collusion by his campaign - and seemed to assail the Justice Department official overseeing the inquiry.

"I'm growing increasingly concerned that the president will attempt to fire not only Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible obstruction of justice, but also Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein who appointed Mueller". The White House used a memo he wrote to justify Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, but Trump's firing of Comey may now be part of the probe.

And now, Trump's tweet seems to confirm Mueller is investigating the president. He said Trump's statement on Twitter Friday was specifically in response to a story in The Washington Post about the expanding probe into Russia's election meddling.

Trump said in an interview with NBC News that he would have fired Comey even without Rosenstein's memo.

The tweets reflect Trump's increasing anger over the investigations, which Trump believes are biased against him and are aimed at forcing him out of the presidency, the Associated Press reported on June 16, citing anonymous White House aides.

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On Sunday, Trump again referred to the probe, but dismissed it as a "distraction". As far as I can see, the real question isn't factual but rather constitutional.

He tweeted in May, just days before firing Comey, that he "was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton", ending the tweet calling him "the phony". Two of the attorneys, James Quarles and Jeannie Rhee, come straight from WilmerHale, where Mueller was a partner before accepting the role of special counsel to investigate Trump.

Appearing on a series of morning news programs, attorney Jay Sekulow repeatedly stressed that "the president has not been and is not under investigation".

Mueller, a former FBI director who was named special counsel for the Russian Federation investigation after Comey was sacked, is investigating whether the Trump campaign colluded with Kremlin officials in a bid to tilt the 2016 election in his favour.

Trump has told associates he has the legal authority to fire Mueller, though some in the White House have preached caution, fearing a repeat of the firestorm over Comey's firing.

The Justice Department on Friday said any such of consideration of recusal was premature.

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Mr Rosenstein has said privately he may need to recuse himself from matters relating to the Russian Federation probe because he could become a witness in the investigation, ABC News reported on Friday. President Trump has vigorously objected to the propriety of such an investigation. A day later, Rosenstein appointed Mueller, who was at the helm of the Federal Bureau of Investigation during the September 11 attacks, as special counsel.

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. And if President Trump were to fire Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein and then got Special Counsel Muller fired, I believe Congress would begin impeachment proceedings.

The attorney, Jay Sekulow, appeared on several Sunday news programs to counter the impression that Trump has acknowledged he's become a target of the expanding Russian Federation probe.

Sekulow, the chief counsel at the American Center for Law and Justice since 1990, defended Trump's use of social media, saying: "He's able to communicate with 107 million people on his various social media platforms on a regular basis as he needs to, so he can directly reach a lot of people". Trump fired FBI Director James B. Comey, sent out spokespeople and surrogates with a far-fetched cover story to explain the dismissal, and then told NBC's Lester Holt that the real reason for the firing was Comey's pursuit of the Russian Federation investigation.

"I can not read the mind of the special prosecutor", he said.

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However, it seems unlikely he will be able to resist public comment on the Brexit process, which he has described as a "tragedy". Aware that this is a priority for the EU, May is reportedly set to make a "generous offer" on the issue early in the talks.

As for Brand, she previously led the Justice Department's Office of Legal Policy, and she most recently served as a member of the government's Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board.

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