One of President Trump’s closest friends is standing by his claim that Trump is considering firing Robert Mueller, the special counsel overseeing a federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
After spending several hours at the White House on Monday, “I think he’s considering perhaps terminating the special counsel,” Chris Ruddy, the chief executive of Newsmax and a longtime friend of the president, told PBS’ Judy Woodruff. “I think he’s weighing that option.”
He pointed out that Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s lawyers, wouldn’t rule out the possibility of Mueller’s firing in an appearance Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.”
Ruddy added: “I personally think it would be a very significant mistake.”
— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) June 12, 2017
The White House quickly pushed back against Ruddy’s comments, suggesting that it was idle speculation on his part.
“Mr. Ruddy never spoke to the President regarding this issue,” press secretary Sean Spicer wrote in an email to reporters. “With respect to this subject, only the President or his attorneys are authorized to comment.”
Ruddy fired back in an email to Politico.
“Spicer issued a bizarre late night press release that a) doesn’t deny my claim the President is considering firing Mueller and b) says I didn’t speak to the President about the matter — when I never claimed to have done so,” Ruddy wrote. “Memo to Sean: focus your efforts on exposing the flim-flam Russian allegations against POTUS and highlighting his remarkable achievements! Don’t waste time trying to undermine one of your few allies.”
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said he spoke with Trump on Monday night and doesn’t believe the president will fire Mueller.
“I think the president is actually pretty confident that ultimately all of this is going to come out in the wash and ultimately he’s still going to be president,” Gingrich said on “CBS This Morning” on Tuesday. “And this stuff’s all going to go away.”
Earlier Monday, Gingrich, who initially applauded Mueller’s hiring as a “superb choice,” tweeted that it is “time to rethink.”
“Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair,” he wrote.
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
The idea that Trump may move to dismiss Mueller has sparked a mini-firestorm in Washington, with some Republicans warning the president not to do so.
“It would be a disaster,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Monday night. “There’s no reason to fire Mueller. What’s he done to be fired?”
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said that if Trump booted Mueller, it would “certainly be an extraordinarily unwise move.”
Administration officials told Politico that they don’t believe Trump will fire Mueller, and that the president has been warned against it “by almost everyone.”
If President fired Bob Mueller, Congress would immediately re-establish independent counsel and appoint Bob Mueller. Don't waste our time.
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) June 12, 2017
Rep. Adam Schiff, D-Calif., believes Trump allies are floating the idea to damage the special counsel’s credibility.
“They’re clearly afraid of Mueller and his independence and the thoroughness of the investigation he’s likely to lead,” Schiff said on MSNBC on Monday night. “You can’t exclude the possibility, but I think it’s just a way of raising doubts about this very good man respected by people on both sides of the aisle.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the same earlier Monday.
“They know they can’t debate the facts or the issues or defend the actions of the White House on the merits, so what do they do?” Schumer said from the Senate floor. “They attack the referee and try to besmirch the reputation of someone like Mr. Mueller.”
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