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>> Did you wanna fire Robert Mueller?>> Fake news, folks, fake news. Typical New York Times fake stories.>> Donald Trump denying a New York Times report he'd called for Robert Mueller to be fired last June then backed down. On Thursday the New York Times cited four sources who say Trump backed off firing Mueller because White House lawyer Donald McGahn threatened to quit instead.
Robert Mueller is special counsel investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 election. And the Times cite sources that say he learned of Trump's orders to fire him through his team's interviews with senior officials over whether the president obstructed justice. The report says when Trump heard Mueller was looking into an obstruction case, the president said the ex-FBI director had three conflicts of interest disqualifying him from heading up the investigation.
First, Trump said Mueller disputed fees at the Trump National Golf Club in Virginia, which led him to resign his membership. Then the president said Mueller could not be impartial because he'd just worked for a law firm that once represented Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner. And the president said, Mueller had been interviewed to return as FBI director the day before he was appointed special counsel last May.
However, the Times' sources said White House lawyer McGahn disagreed with all of these points. And told senior officials firing Mueller would impact Trump's presidency and raise questions over whether the White House was trying to obstruct the Russia probe. The report says it was then that Trump backed off.
Mueller was appointed special counsel by the US Justice Department after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, who had been leading the agency's Russia probe. Comey's firing is central to the question of whether Trump obstructed justice. Trump said on Wednesday he'd be willing to be questioned under oath by Mueller.
And sources say the president's attorneys are talking with Mueller's team about an interview.