High-profile supporters of President Donald Trump are turning on special counsel Robert Mueller, the man charged with investigating Russian interference in the U.S. election and possible collusion with Trump’s campaign.
As Mueller builds his legal team, Trump’s allies have begun raising questions about the former FBI director’s impartiality, suggesting he cannot be trusted to lead the probe. The comments come amid increasing frustration at the White House and among Trump supporters that the investigation will overshadow the president’s agenda for months to come — a prospect that has Democrats salivating.
Trump friend Chris Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax, went so far as to suggest the president was already thinking about “terminating” Mueller.
“I think he’s considering perhaps terminating the special counsel,” Ruddy said in an interview with Judy Woodruff of “PBS NewsHour.” ”I think he’s weighing that option.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, an informal Trump adviser, tweeted Monday, “Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair. Look who he is hiring,” tweeted
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.”
But after the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey last week, Gingrich said he’d changed his mind.
“Time to rethink,” he tweeted Monday, citing Mueller’s hiring decisions and Comey’s admission that he’d instructed a friend to share with reporters notes he’d taken of his private conversations with Trump in order to force the appointment of special counsel.
Conservative commentator Ann Coulter offered a similar message, tweeting, “Now that we know TRUMP IS NOT UNDER INVESTIGATION, Sessions should take it back & fire Mueller.”
But then today you have this:
Senior White House aides pushed back on a claim Monday that President Donald Trump is considering directing the deputy attorney general to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is currently leading the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Chris Ruddy, a close friend of Trump and the CEO of the conservative media company Newsmax, first told PBS that the president is “considering, perhaps, terminating the special counsel, he’s weighing that option.”
Ruddy later clarified to ABC News that Trump is “considering asking [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein to terminate Mueller.” Such a firing must come from the attorney general, according to the Code of Federal Regulations, which would be Rosenstein, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself.
The notion was dismissed by senior White House aides later Monday evening, who said that Ruddy does not speak for the president. Though Ruddy was at the White House earlier in the day, those aides said he did not meet with Trump, but White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, a former conservative media leader himself.
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said: “Mr. Ruddy never spoke to the President regarding this issue. With respect to this subject, only the President or his attorneys are authorized to comment.”