Deputy AG defends integrity of Russian Federation probe

Comey's decision to announce previous year that Clinton would not be prosecuted over her emails was a "usurpation" of the Justice Department's authority, Sessions said. Rosenstein said Trump has not raised the issue of the special counsel with him and has not discussed Mueller's tenure.

Under Justice Department rules, Trump would seemingly have to order Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein to rescind department regulations protecting a special counsel from being fired for no good reason, and then to fire Mueller. "Under the regulation, special counsel Mueller may be fired only for good cause and I'm required to put that cause in writing".

According to Justice Department rules, special counsel Robert Mueller can not be fired without good cause.

Although senior officials repudiated the assertion from Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy - that he "thinks" Trump is considering firing Mueller - the media was once again set ablaze with efforts to tie the Trump Administration to the Watergate scandal.

President Donald Trump smiles during a Cabinet meeting, Monday, June 12, 2017, in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement that Ruddy, who had been seen at the White House that day, "never spoke to the President regarding" Muller, adding, "only the President or his attorneys are authorized to comment" on that topic. That witness: James Comey, who replaced Mueller as Federal Bureau of Investigation director.

Rosenstein was testifying hours ahead of a separate Senate appearance by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who was expected to face sharp questions from his former colleagues about his role in Comey's firing, his Russian contacts during the campaign and his decision to step aside from the investigation involving Moscow and the Trump campaign.

Finally, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) got right to it and asked the question on everyone's mind - if Trump ordered Rosenstein to fire Mueller, what would he do? "And I'm not going to speculate on what he will or will not do", Sekulow said.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein told Rosenstein that she believes it would be "catastrophic" if special counsel Robert Mueller were fired on the orders of President Donald Trump.

"Mr. President we thank you for the opportunity and blessing to serve you and your agenda", said White House Chief Of Staff Reince Priebus. "And in fact, the chain of command of the special counsel is only directly to the attorney general", Rosenstein told the Senate committee, "or in this case the acting attorney general, so nobody else in the department would have authority to do that".

"Look, the president of the United States, as we all know, is a unitary executive", Sekulow said. In his testimony, Rosenstein made it clear that he would not follow a presidential order to fire Mueller unless he thought there was a good cause.

"I'm confident that he has full confidence", Rosenstein said.

Rosenstein also said that because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russian Federation matter, Mueller could only be fired by Rosenstein himself.

While he had recused himself from the Russian Federation probe, Sessions said, "I did not recuse myself from defending my honor against scurrilous and false allegations".

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says he will "defend the integrity" of the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the US elections.

Adding to the atmosphere of intrigue was a tweet Monday from Trump ally Newt Gingrich saying it's "time to rethink" Mueller as special council.

Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller as special counsel overseeing the probe into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election, deflected the question in a House committee hearing Tuesday afternoon. I never said that the President told me.

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