US president Donald Trump is considering firing Robert Mueller, the Federal Bureau of Investigation special counsel investigating Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election. He told reporters he’s mulling the possibility today after his personal attorney’s hotel room was raided by investigators.
“I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on,” Trump said at the White House, in response to a reporter asking why he hasn’t fired Mueller. “We’ll see what happens,” he said. “Many people have said ‘you should fire him.’” Firing Mueller could kick off a constitutional crisis in the US, and would spark hundreds of pre-planned protests across the country.
Agents from the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York raided the New York hotel room of Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen earlier today, acting on a referral from the FBI, Cohen’s lawyer said in a statement. They spent several hours in the room, and the raid resulted in an “unnecessary seizure of protected attorney-client communications between a lawyer and his clients,” Cohen’s lawyer, Stephen Ryan, said.
Trump was asked for his reaction hours later, as he hosted a military leadership meeting at the White House. Flanked by vice president Mike Pence and new national security advisor John Bolton, Trump called the situation “disgraceful” and a “witch hunt” before answering the question about Mueller, according to the White House press pool.
So I just heard they broke into the office of one of my personal attorneys. … It’s a disgraceful situation. It’s a total witch hunt. I’ve been saying it for a long time. I’ve wanted to keep it down. I’ve given over a million pages in documents to the special counsel. They continue to just go forward and here we are talking about Syria, we’re talking about a lot of serious things … and I have this witch hunt constantly going on for over 12 months now. Actually it’s much more than that. You could say right after I won the nomination it started.
When I saw this, when I heard about it, that is a whole new level of unfairness.
Trump referred to the investigators, or perhaps the FBI, as the “most biased group of people,” and said they have “the biggest conflicts of interest I have ever seen.” He referred to them as “Democrats—all,” before correcting himself and saying they included “a couple of Republicans who worked for president Obama.” (Mueller is a lifelong Republican).
Investigators should be looking at the “other side,” Trump said, explaining he meant Hillary Clinton, before promising “we’ll be talking about it more.” If he had known attorney general Jeff Sessions was going to recuse himself from the investigation, Trump added “we would have put a different attorney general in.” Sessions “made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country,” he said.
Trump’s exchange on firing Mueller came afterward. Here it is in its entirety, according to the official White House transcript:
Q Why don’t you just fire Mueller?
THE PRESIDENT: Why don’t I just fire Mueller?
Q Yeah, just fire the guy.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think it’s a disgrace what’s going on. We’ll see what happens. But I think it’s really a sad situation when you look at what happened. And many people have said, “You should fire him.” Again, they found nothing. And in finding nothing, that’s a big statement. If you know the person who’s in charge of the investigation, you know about that. Deputy Rosenstein—Rod Rosenstein—he wrote the letter, very critical, of Comey.
One of the things they said: “I fired Comey.” Well, I turned out to do the right thing, because if you look at all of the things that he’s done and the lies, and you look at what’s gone on at the FBI with the insurance policy and all of the things that happened—turned out I did the right thing.
But he signed—as you know, he also signed the FISA warrant. So Rod Rosenstein, who’s in charge of this, signed a FISA warrant, and he also signed a letter that was essentially saying to fire James Comey. And he was right about that. He was absolutely right.
So we’ll see what happens. I think it’s disgraceful, and so does a lot of other people. This is a pure and simple witch hunt.