Report: Trump tried to fire Robert Mueller last June

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President Donald Trump ordered the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller in June but “backed off” when the White House counsel threatened to quit, the New York Times reported Thursday. 

According to the report, four people who knew about the incident confirmed to the Times that Trump had wanted to fire Mueller, the special counsel in charge of investigating Russia meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Trump reportedly said that Mueller had conflicts of interest in his probe. 

The Times report is the first account of Trump trying to fire Mueller. The June order came amid news reports that Mueller and his team were looking into obstruction of justice by the president.

White House counsel Don McGahn threatened to quit rather than follow through on the president’s order, according to the Times, because he believed firing Mueller would add to speculation that the president was obstructing justice in the Russia probe.

Trump reportedly said Mueller’s conflicts in the investigation included his employment at a law firm that represented Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and a dispute over fees at Trump’s National Golf Club in Virginia. Trump also cited Mueller’s interview to possibly return as the FBI director the day before he was appointed special counsel in May.

The president’s lawyer, Ty Cobb, reportedly declined to comment to the Times “out of respect for the Office of the Special Counsel and its process.”

In August, Kellyanne Conway, counselor to the president, told ABC News that Trump “had not even discussed” firing Mueller, BuzzFeed News reported.

The Times report comes just one day after Trump said he is “looking forward” to being interviewed by Mueller as part of the investigation—as long as his lawyers let him.

H/T New York Times

Kris Seavers

Kris Seavers

Kris Seavers is the IRL editor for the Daily Dot. Her work has appeared in Central Texas publications, including Austin Monthly and San Antonio Magazine, and on NPR.