White House denies Trump wants Mueller out, but heat's on

Just weeks ago, Gingrich had heaped praise on Mueller, hailing him as a "superb choice" for special counsel whose reputation was "impeccable for honesty and integrity".

"The people in the administration were quick to reach out to me and say Chris Ruddy doesn't speak for this administration", Scarborough said. Still, Gingrich said any special counsel with an agenda can "all of the sudden find something procedural and technical to latch onto".

But in this particular case, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from anything relating to the Russian Federation investigation.

Now, Trump could order Rosenstein to fire Mueller. As he has already said earlier in the day, Rosenstein is not involved in the investigation and does not know any details regarding what's going on.

Responding to comments Monday from Christopher Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax Media and a friend of Trump, Rosenstein told the Senate Appropriations Committee that if the president ordered him to fire the special counsel handling the Russian Federation investigation, he would comply only if the request were "lawful and appropriate".

"But I think it would be unusual that he would have a confidential conversation and then a few days later become prosecutor of the person he would be investigating", he added.

"I know what we're investigating and (Sessions) does not", Rosenstein said, trying to clarify Sessions' role.

New Hampshire Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, opened her line of questioning, in the hearing that was supposed to focus on the Justice Department budget, by asking if Rosenstein had seen any evidence of good cause to fire Mueller. Sessions recused himself from investigations related to the Trump campaign in February, a move that also provoked Trump's ire. Sekulow said he wasn't going to speculate on whether the president might order Mueller's firing.

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A person familiar with Trump's thinking said Tuesday that it is "unlikely" he will fire Mueller, but acknowledged that it is often hard to predict Trump's behavior. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who was put in charge of the Russian Federation probe after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself, made the announcement May 18. Also, some of his newly appointed prosecutors have donated to both former President Barack Obama's and 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton's election campaigns in the past.

Sessions is scheduled to testify Tuesday afternoon in open session before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

But the president's allies have since changed their opinion, calling for Mueller to be removed as the special counsel, stating that he shares a close friendship with Comey for the last 15 years.

"I think he's considering perhaps terminating the special counsel", he said.

I met Mueller only once, when he was assistant attorney general for the criminal division. The fallout from the James Comey firing was mitigated, at least to some degree, by the acceptance of Mueller to take over the investigation.

Ruddy appeared to be basing his assessment on comments by Jay Sekulow, a member of Trump's personal legal team, on ABC News on Sunday, according to the Post.

But he did note Tuesday morning in an email to Politico that a subsequent statement from White House press secretary Sean Spicer "doesn't deny my claim the President is considering firing Mueller" and that Ruddy never claimed to have spoken with Trump about Mueller.

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