Deputy Attorney General: Donald Trump can't fire special counsel Robert Mueller

H11 geo prison interior

H11 geo prison interior

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said Tuesday he's seen no basis for firing Robert Mueller, the former FBI director he appointed as special counsel to oversee an investigation into potential coordination between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian Federation.

As expectations mounted about the upcoming open hearing of attorney general Jeff Sessions on Capitol Hill, a friend of the president added a new twist to the Russian Federation controversy by suggesting Donald Trump might be considering dismissing the special counsel investigating it.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told lawmakers it would be his decision to fire Robert Mueller and that he hasn't seen any evidence of good cause to do that. A President's order, he pointed out, did not count as good cause.

But Neal Katyal, a partner at the firm Hogan Lovells and former Acting Solicitor General who wrote the special counsel regulations nearly two decades ago, says that ultimately, Trump has the constitutional authority to fire who he wants, and the power to repeal the regulations. But if President Trump or his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, wanted to eliminate Mueller, they could: The law that would've stopped them has expired.

It would be hard to make the case, he said, that the experience of interviewing for Federal Bureau of Investigation director would make it impossible for Mueller to fairly exercise the broad discretion afforded to prosecutors.

"I'm not going to follow any orders unless I believe that those are lawful and appropriate orders", Rosenstein said.

The White House pushed back, but only hours after the claim had been parsed and dissed with warnings about how it would only make things worse for Trump, who chose to ignore it all together in a series of tweets on Tuesday morning, and seemed more focussed on a fresh setback to his travel ban. "You want to see this President in the express lane to impeachment, no ifs, ands or buts, then go for it".

Both Rosenstein and Sessions are testifying Tuesday on Capitol Hill.

"I personally think it would be a very significant mistake", Ruddy added. Over the weekend, a Trump lawyer publicly refused to rule out that possibility, stressing that the president has the necessary authority.

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House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters Tuesday any talk about Trump wanting to rid himself of the special investigator amounts to "rumour".

Rosenstein said that if he fired Mueller, he would be required to explain it in writing.

Weeks ago, Gingrich had heaped praise on Mueller, hailing him as a "superb choice" for special counsel whose reputation was "impeccable for honesty and integrity".

"There's no question in my mind that the Ethics in Government Act made it far more hard to fire special prosecutors", said Dershowitz, who is writing his own article on the subject.

But Stephen Gillers, a New York University professor who specializes in legal and judicial ethics, said the Mueller interview with Trump presented "no conflict whatsoever".

"Many have suggested that my recusal is because I felt I was a subject of the investigation myself, that I may have done something wrong", Sessions added. "Mr Ruddy never spoke to the president regarding this issue", Spicer said.

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

Ruddy was at the White House on Monday (Tuesday NZT) to meet with White House aides, but did not speak with the president, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment on the issues Gingrich and others have raised.