Trump denies he ordered Mueller fired
President Donald Trump pushed back Friday against reports that he ordered White House lawyer Don McGahn to fire special counsel Robert Mueller last June.
“Fake news, folks. Fake news. Typical New York Times fake stories,” Trump retorted dismissively when asked about it by reporters at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
The reports, first by the Times and then others, said Trump backed off on his attempt to fire the man who is investigating him, his election campaign’s Russian contacts and his firings of FBI Director James Comey and National Security Adviser Michael Flynn – but only after lawyer McGahn refused to relay his directive to the Justice Department and threatened to quit if Trump pressed the issue.
The Times reported that Trump demanded Mueller’s firing just weeks after the special counsel was first appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
McGahn said he would not deliver the order to the Justice Department, according to the Times, which cites four people familiar with the request by the president.
Trump argued at the time that Mueller could not be fair because of a dispute over golf club fees that he said Mueller owed at a Trump golf club in Sterling, Va. The president also believed Mueller had a conflict of interest because he worked for the same law firm that was representing Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner.
Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, did not immediately return a call to comment Thursday night. Ty Cobb, a White House lawyer working on the response to the Russia probe, declined to comment Thursday night.
The response from Democrats was nearly immediate. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said that if the report in the Times is true, Trump has crossed a “red line.”
“Any attempt to remove the special counsel, pardon key witnesses or otherwise interfere in the investigation would be a gross abuse of power, and all members of Congress, from both parties, have a responsibility to our Constitution and to our country to make that clear immediately,” Warner said.