Executive Branch

White House counsel reportedly refused to fire special counsel Mueller after Trump ordered it

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President Donald Trump reportedly ordered the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller last June, but backed down after pushback by the White House counsel.

Don McGahn reportedly said he would resign rather than ask the U.S. Justice Department to carry out Trump’s order. The New York Times was first with the news in a story based on four anonymous sources. Several news organizations followed with their own stories, including the Washington Post and Politico.

Trump also reportedly considered firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who announced Mueller’s appointment on May 17 after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election.

Mueller is aware of Trump’s reported order to fire him.

Trump had argued that Mueller had a conflict of interest for three reasons, according to two of the anonymous sources who spoke with the Times. First, Trump said Mueller resigned from one of his golf clubs in an alleged dispute over fees. Second, Mueller had worked for a law firm that previously represented Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Third, Mueller interviewed to be FBI director before his appointment as special counsel.

McGahn reportedly told White House officials that firing Mueller would be catastrophic for Trump’s presidency. He was also said to be concerned that firing Mueller would raise questions about possible obstruction of justice.

At the World Economic Summit on Friday In Davos, Switzerland, Trump said the report was “fake news. A typical New York Times fake story.”

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