President Trump ordered the firing last June of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, according to four people told of the matter, but ultimately backed down after the White House counsel threatened to resign rather than carry out the directive.
The West Wing confrontation marks the first time Mr. Trump is known to have tried to fire the special counsel. Mr. Mueller learned about the episode in recent months as his investigators interviewed current and former senior White House officials in his inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice.
Amid the first wave of news media reports that Mr. Mueller was examining a possible obstruction case, the president began to argue that Mr. Mueller had three conflicts of interest that disqualified him from overseeing the investigation, two of the people said.
First, he claimed that a dispute years ago over fees at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., had prompted Mr. Mueller, the F.B.I. director at the time, to resign his membership. The president also said Mr. Mueller could not be impartial because he had most recently worked for the law firm that previously represented the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Finally, the president said, Mr. Mueller had been interviewed to return as the F.B.I. director the day before he was appointed special counsel in May.
After receiving the president’s order to fire Mr. Mueller, the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, refused to ask the Justice Department to dismiss the special counsel, saying he would quit instead, the people said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation.
"Dispute over fees at Trump National Golf Club?" Really?
According to sources McGahn quite rightly said at the time that firing Mueller would have a "catastrophic effect on the Trump presidency."
Gee, ya think?
As it turns out Kellyanne Con-job was asked about this very thing back in August and she had this to say.
Of course she had to know that she was lying, but when did that make any difference to anybody associated with this presidency?FLASHBACK: AUGUST 6— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) January 26, 2018
Q: Does the president commit to not firing Mueller?
KC: The president has not even discussed that. The president is not discussing firing Bob Mueller—
Q: But will he commit not to fire him?
KC: He has not even discussed— he’s not discussed firing Bob Mueller pic.twitter.com/sbrMZ3Nmor
Trump himself was asked about this just today while he was attending that conference in Davos, and he responded with this:
"Fake news, folks. Fake news," Trump said when questioned about the revelation as he entered the World Economic Forum in Davos.
"Typical New York Times," he added.
Unfortunately for Trump this Times story has now been confirmed by a number of other news outlets, including Fox News.
So much for the claim of "fake news."
As journalist Natasha Bertrand points out there is a clear pattern of behavior here:
— Natasha Bertrand (@NatashaBertrand) January 26, 2018I don't think it comes as a surprise to anybody that this petulant child tried to get Mueller fired.
Of course he did.
The only real surprise is that anybody had the guts to try and stop him.