Deputy AG Rosenstein: Special counsel will have 'full independence' for Russia probe

Starting over the weekend, Trump surrogates began floating the idea that the president is thinking about ousting Robert Mueller, the widely respected special counsel who is investigating possible Trump campaign ties to Russian spies and hackers - and any related actions that might impact that investigation, such as alleged obstruction of justice by the president.

Firing Mueller would be a politically explosive move that would raise new questions about Trump, whose dismissal of James Comey as Federal Bureau of Investigation director generated accusations of obstruction of justice and led to Mueller's appointment.

"If President fired Bob Mueller, Congress would immediately re-establish independent counsel and appoint Bob Mueller". "I mean, these are people who are going to be after [President Donald] Trump", Gingrich told ABC News Chief Anchor George Stephanopoulos on "Good Morning America" today, adding that he believes the investigation should be curtailed given the biases associated with the case.

"I personally think it would be a significant mistake, even though I don't think there is a justification [for a special counsel]". "I am going to defend the integrity of that investigation", said Rosenstein.

Under current Justice Department regulations, firing Mueller would have to be done by deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, not the president— though those regulations could theoretically be set aside.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, asked Rosenstein at a budget hearing Tuesday what he would do if Trump ordered him to fire Mueller, who is investigating Russian interference in the US elections and possible Russian ties to Trump's campaign. Sessions has recused himself from the investigation.

Sessions refused to say whether he had ever discussed the Russian Federation investigation with Trump, arguing that he could not disclose private communications with the president.

The Attorney General may from time to time make such provisions as he considers appropriate authorizing the performance by any other officer, employee, or agency of the Department of Justice of any function of the Attorney General.

Ryan said the smartest thing for the president to do would be to let the investigation continue and be vindicated. They wanted a chance to grill Sessions - not only about the department budget but about his role in the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey, and his own contacts with Russian officials.

"In this kind of environment, I don't give the benefit of the doubt to somebody who can only hire Democrats, but claims that we ought to trust him", Gingrich said.

The first shot was sacked by Jay Sekulow, a hard-right conservative activist and a member of Trump's legal team who told ABC's "This Week" that he would not rule out the firing of Mueller. Ruddy later confirmed the comment to CNN. If there weren't good cause, it wouldn't matter what anybody says.

The White House forcefully disputed Ruddy's claims, saying he speaks for himself, not the president.

"I felt that I was required to under the rules of the Department of Justice", he told the committee on Tuesday, adding that he gradually realised he would have to step down.

Leahy, a member of the Senate subcommittee, made Democrats' frustrations clear to Rosenstein before the deputy attorney general spoke. "I think that Sean is doing something unusual and different, which is making a news story where one doesn't exist".

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