WASHINGTON — President Trump on Friday denied that he had ordered the firing of Robert S. Mueller III, the specific counsel in the Russia probe, but then backed off. The president called reports of the June incident “fake news.”
The New York Instances reported Thursday evening that Mr. Trump ordered Donald F. McGahn II, his prime White Property lawyer, to dismiss Mr. Mueller just weeks following Mr. Mueller took over the Russia investigation. Mr. McGahn refused to ask the Justice Department to fire Mr. Mueller, saying he would quit alternatively, and the president relented.
Mr. Trump responded to The Occasions report during a trip to Davos, Switzerland, exactly where he is attending the World Financial Forum, a gathering of world leaders and worldwide enterprise executives.
Upon arrival at the Congress Center in Davos, Mr. Trump was greeted by a scrum of the forum’s participants snapping cellphone pictures and by a large group of reporters asking why he had ordered Mr. Mueller’s firing.
“Fake news, folks,” Mr. Trump replied. “Fake news. Typical New York Occasions fake story.”
The Occasions report was based on four folks who had been told of the matter. On Thursday, Ty Cobb, who manages the White House partnership with Mr. Mueller’s workplace, declined to comment.
The June incident could emerge as an important portion of Mr. Mueller’s probe, part of which is looking into no matter whether Mr. Trump or anyone in the White Property or associated with his campaign obstructed justice by attempting to impede investigators seeking into the possibility of campaign-associated collusion with Russia.
Mr. Trump’s order to fire Mr. Mueller came in the month after the president did fire the F.B.I. director James B. Comey, later citing the Russia probe as the cause for his decision. At the time, Mr. Comey was in charge of the F.B.I.’s investigation into collusion with Russia during the election. The firing of Mr. Comey in Might directly led to Mr. Mueller’s appointment.
Mr. Trump’s denial of the June incident echoes repeated statements by the president and other White House officials that Mr. Trump had in no way regarded as firing the specific prosecutor.
“I haven’t given it any thought,” Mr. Trump told reporters in August. “Well, I’ve been reading about it from you men and women. You say, oh, I’m going to dismiss him. No, I’m not dismissing anyone.”
John Dowd, the president’s private lawyer, said that same month that firing Mr. Mueller has “never been on the table, never.”
But 4 folks, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation, mentioned Mr. Trump ordered the firing, citing what he believed have been 3 factors that Mr. Mueller has a conflict of interest that should avoid him from leading the Russia investigation.
Those included claims about a disputed payment of fees by Mr. Mueller at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va. the truth that Mr. Mueller worked at the same law firm that represented the president’s son-in-law and Mr. Mueller’s interview with the president to be F.B.I. director prior to he was appointed to be the special counsel.
Published at Fri, 26 Jan 2018 15:30:56 +0000