Robert Mueller, the former FBI Director who was appointed last month as special counsel to investigate connections between Donald Trump and Russia, is already in Trump’s crosshairs less than one month after taking the job and starting his investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian operation to swing the 2016 presidential election in his favor, according to a close friend of Trump’s.
Christopher Ruddy, CEO of the conservative online media outlet Newsmax and a frequent, if unofficial, Trump spokesperson visited the White House on Monday afternoon. About one hour later, Ruddy appeared on PBS Newshour and during that interview he told anchor Judy Woodruff that he believed Trump was already “considering” firing Mueller.
“I think he’s considering perhaps terminating the special counsel,” Ruddy told Woodruff on the broadcast. “I think he’s weighing that option. I personally think it would be a very significant mistake, even though I don’t think there’s a justification… for a special counsel.”
Mueller was appointed to the position by Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein on May 17, less than one week after Trump abruptly and without warning fired FBI Director James Comey — and subsequently admitted in a televised interview that he had “this Russia thing” in mind when he decided to fire the widely respected FBI head.
Watch video of the interview between Woodruff and Ruddy in the video below, courtesy of PBS Newshour.
Chris Ruddy to @JudyWoodruff: President Trump is considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller, who he considered for another position. pic.twitter.com/X4IIHlh8at
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) June 12, 2017
On June 9, Comey made his first and, to date, only public appearance since his firing, giving dramatic testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee. In that testimony, Comey said that he believed — because Trump had said so — that he was fired due to the FBI’s investigation of the possible Trump connections to Russia.
“I take the president’s words,” Comey testified. “I know I was fired because of something about the way I was conducting the Russia investigation was in some way putting pressure on him, in some way irritating him, and he decided to fire me because of that.”
Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, and now may fire special counsel Robert Mueller who is also conducting an investigation into Trump’s Russia connections. (Image By Andrew Harnik/AP Images)
Ruddy’s assertion, shortly after his White House visit on Monday, that Trump is thinking of “terminating” Mueller comes after top supporters of Trump have publicly expressed the view that Mueller should be fired — including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who despite describing Mueller as “a superb choice” whose “reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity” less than one month ago, said on Monday that Congress should act to “abolish the independent counsel.”
Gingrich then repeated that sentiment on his Twitter account.
Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair. Look who he is hiring.check fec reports. Time to rethink.
— Newt Gingrich (@newtgingrich) June 12, 2017
Former House Speaker andTrump ally Newt Gingrich called on Monday for the special counsel position to be “abolished.” (Image By Carolyn Kaster/AP Images)
Another conservative commentator, Byron York of The Washington Examiner, also called for Mueller’s ouster, saying that the former FBI Director’s longtime friendship with his successor at the FBI, Comey, caused a conflict of interest.
“Comey is a good friend of special counsel Robert Mueller — such a good friend, for about 15 years now, that the two men have been described as ‘brothers in arms,’” York wrote.
If Trump were to fire Mueller, after firing Comey, the Russia investigation would continue in various forms nonetheless, as both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees are conducting their own ongoing investigations and the FBI investigation continues as well, though if Mueller were fired, he would no longer oversee that branch of the probe.
[Featured Photo By Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Images]