- Drew Angerer/Getty Images
- President Donald Trump reportedly ordered special counsel Robert Mueller to be fired, one month after dismissing FBI director James Comey.
- White House counsel Don McGahn refused to direct the Justice Department to fire Mueller, and instead, threatened to resign.
- Mueller is reportedly aware of the incident.
President Donald Trump reportedly ordered special counsel Robert Mueller to be fired, one month after he was appointed, following FBI director James Comey’s dismissal, according to four sources who were briefed on the incident, the New York Times reported Thursday.
The White House counsel reportedly balked at the notion and refused to direct the Justice Department to fire Mueller, and Trump was said to have eventually backed down from the decision, according to The Times.
White House counsel Don McGahn also reportedly threatened to resign after the request, arguing that Mueller’s firing would bring about consequences for the Trump administration.
Following The Times’s story, sources in a Washington Post report confirmed the incident; however, noted that McGahn did not directly threaten Trump with his resignation.
Mueller is reportedly aware of the incident after interviewing current and former senior White House officials, The Times continued.
Trump reportedly floated what he viewed as conflicts of interest behind his attempt to fire Mueller, according to The Times, including a dispute over fees that led Mueller to cancel his membership at the Trump National Golf Course in 2011. Mueller’s spokesman previously challenged that account, saying there was no dispute between the golf course and Mueller, according to The Washington Post.
Trump argued that Mueller would be biased in the Russia case because of his ties to WilmerHale, a law firm that represented Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner. his son-in-law. Trump also expressed concern that Mueller, who was in the running to reprise his role as FBI director after Comey was fired, was not chosen for the job.
Trump and other senior White House officials, including counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway, previously denied having discussed the possibility of firing Mueller.
Mueller is deep into an investigation of possible collusion between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and Russia, and whether Trump obstructed justice as the investigation picked up steam in 2017.
Mueller’s team has interviewed several key members of Trump’s administration, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and former chief of staff Reince Priebus; and has also charged Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and his business partner and deputy campaign manager, Richard Gates.
On Wednesday, Trump appeared to be open to the possibility of testifying under oath to Mueller: “I am looking forward to it, actually,” Trump said.