Trump may 'terminate' Russia probe investigator, says president's pal

Acosta Trump advised not to fire Mueller

Democrats accused Republicans on Monday of beginning a campaign to smear Mueller's reputation as he engages in a broad investigation that could include whether Trump obstructed justice by pressuring Comey to end parts of the inquiry and then by firing him.

STEPHANOPOULOS: So are you suggesting there - are you suggesting there that you and the president and the president's legal team don't have confidence in Robert Mueller to conduct a fair investigation?

In every practical sense, Trump is stuck with Mueller.

The notion was dismissed by senior White House aides later Monday evening, who said that Ruddy does not speak for the president. Sessions has recused himself from the investigation.

Mueller was appointed Federal Bureau of Investigation director by President George W. Bush in 2001 and served until 2013, when Comey took over as head.

Trump's allies have begun raising questions about special counsel Robert Mueller's impartiality - he's a former FBI director who has worked with fired FBI Director James Comey - and floating the idea that Trump might replace him.

Gingrich and Ruddy said it would be a "mistake" for Trump to remove Mueller, although both said they see the probe as unnecessary. If Rosenstein refused, Trump could fire him and continue down the line until a DOJ official acquiesced.

Under current Justice Department regulations, firing Mr Mueller would have to be done by attorney general Jeff Sessions' deputy Mr Rosenstein, not the president, though those regulations could theoretically be set aside.

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Trump's tweets came after the top lawyer for his transition team warned the organization's officials to preserve all records and other materials related to the Russian Federation probe.

The top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, Adam Schiff, warned on Twitter that "If President fired Bob Mueller, Congress would immediately re-establish independent counsel and appoint Bob Mueller".

Schiff told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Tuesday that "I don't think the Congress would sit still and allow the president to pick his own investigator".

When pressed by a PBS reporter, Ruddy said, "I know for a fact he was under consideration and the president did talk with him in the days before he was named special counsel". Though some in the White House have preached caution, fearing a repeat of the firestorm over Comey's firing, many in Trump's orbit - including his son Donald Trump Jr. and adviser Newt Gingrich - have deemed Mueller biased and worthy of dismissal. The person demanded anonymity to discuss strategy on the sensitive matter.

Ruddy, who is chief executive of Newsmax Media and a member of Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida, confirmed his view in a text message to The Washington Post, but he did not elaborate.

"But the President is going to seek the advice of his counsel and inside the government as well as outside". I mean, Marc Kasowitz is lead lawyer on this place and is in charge of the legal team has said clearly that he is putting forward a legal team and a legal defense that will address all of the issues.

He added, "I can't imagine that that issue is going to arise".

It wasn't clear whether Ruddy, who speaks with the president often, was basing his remarks on a specific conversation with the president or entirely on Sekulow's comments.

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