The New York Times is reporting that President Trump attempted to fire Special counsel Robert Mueller in June. Special Counsel Mueller is leading the Trump-Russia investigation, as well as investigating whether or not the President has committed obstruction of justice.
Four people close to the investigation (who are choosing to remain anonymous) are claiming that President Trump decided to back down from his decision of firing Mueller once the White House counsel threatened to resign.
Mueller discovered President Trump’s attempt to fire him over a course of interviews with current and former White House staff, as part of the investigation. Allegedly, Trump’s basis for wanting to firing Mueller is that he had three conflicts of interest. Firstly, Trump is claiming that Robert Mueller resigned his membership at Trump National Golf Club in Virginia over disagreements about the club’s membership fees.
Trump carried on to say that Mueller could not lead the investigation because his recent job was at the law firm that represented his son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Lastly, Trump argued that Mueller had been interviewed to become to the F.B.I Director a day before he was appointed to become Special Counsel back in May.
The White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn, refused to carry out Trump’s order to fire Mueller and said he would rather resign. McGahn reportedly told senior White House officials that he believed that firing Robert Mueller would affect the President and his administration badly, and that he refused to take part in it. This caused President Trump to rethink his decision, and finally back off.
Since The New York Times broke the story, Trump has denied the allegations, calling the story “fake news” during a visit to Davos, Switzerland. “Fake news, a typical New York Times fake story.”
Special Counsel Mueller’s office has also declined to comment, “We decline to comment out of respect for the Office of the Special Counsel and its process.”
Whether or not the President’s actions were illegal is still debatable.
If the President’s intention was truly to fire Mueller because he believed he had conflicts of interest which would affect the investigation, that isn’t wrong; but it’s also likely that Trump’s true intentions were to protect himself from being exposed by Mueller’s investigation. Mueller has already investigated key members of Trump’s circle, such as former campaign manager Paul Manafort, Jared Kushner, and Michael Flynn. Therefore, Trump could have been paranoid that Mueller’s investigation would have led to him being charged. This report is significant as it highlights on how far the President is willing to go to protect himself, even if it means obstructing justice.
Photo: Christopher Gregory / The New York Times