Top Republicans said Tuesday they’re confident President Trump won’t try to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, saying he should be allowed to finish his probe into the 2016 elections.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, in particularly strong language, called Mr. Mueller the right man for the job and said he should be given the space to complete his investigation — in stark contrast with Mr. Trump, who this week again labeled the probe a “witch hunt.”
“I think it was an excellent appointment. He will go wherever the facts lead him,” Mr. McConnell said, drawing attaboys from Sen. Charles E. Schumer of New York, the chamber’s top Democrat, who termed it “a real shot across the bow” to Mr. Trump.
The White House insists the president isn’t thinking of ousting the man who’s dogged him for a year — though press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Americans should sympathize with the president’s frustration.
“I don’t think that any individual, including members of Congress, would like it if they had been accused of taking their seat in Congress by doing something nefarious when they hadn’t, particularly if it went on for more than a year into their time in office,” she said. “My guess is they would be more than anxious to push back, and certainly would defend themselves as the president has clearly done in this situation and has since Day One.”
Mr. Trump’s intentions toward Mr. Mueller, long a parlor game for Washington wags, erupted again after the president took to Twitter over the weekend and again Monday to blast the probe into his campaign.
Democrats said he was bordering on a constitutional crisis, and demanded that Congress take action to protect Mr. Mueller.
GOP leaders, though, said they didn’t think that was needed, saying they accepted the White House’s promises that the president isn’t going to fire the special counsel.
“I received assurances that his firing is not even under consideration,” House Speaker Paul D. Ryan told reporters.
Mr. McConnell concurred — adding his praise for the job Mr. Mueller has done.
“There’s widespread feeling, and the president’s lawyers obviously agree, he ought to be allowed to finish the job,” Mr. McConnell said. “We all anticipate his finishing the job and telling the American people what they need to know about this episode.”
Mr. Mueller has won indictments and, in some cases, convictions against a number of figures from the Trump campaign. He’s also indicted Russian individuals and companies he accuses of having meddled in the election.
So far, however, he has not alleged any knowing collusion between the Trump campaign’s central figures and Russian operatives to subvert the 2016 election.
Mr. Trump vehemently denies collusion.
He does, however, say the Mueller probe is biased — particularly after former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe was fired on Friday, just before his official retirement, for having shown a “lack of candor” as investigators were probing his role in 2016 election-related investigations. Investigators said Mr. McCabe also made an unauthorized media leak.
“A total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!” Mr. Trump tweeted, commenting on the Mueller probe.
Mrs. Sanders declined to answer questions about whether Mr. Trump will sit down for an interview with Mr. Mueller. The president’s lawyers have reportedly been negotiating terms of how the president would answer questions.
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