Jeff Sessions testifies before the Senate Intelligence Committee

But Sessions has recused himself from the investigation, which means if Trump wants Mueller fired, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would have to do it.

Congressional Republicans are standing behind special counsel Robert Mueller, who is leading the Justice Department's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, amid rumors that President Trump is considering firing him.

"I'd urge that these attacks on Mr. Mueller be ceased, and that my friends on the other side of the aisle join me in defending his reputation".

But Rosenstein made it very clear how that would go. Rosenstein is also the Department of Justice official who appointed Mueller as special counsel late last month.

Two senators say they are disappointed that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has sent his deputy to testify before a committee hearing on the Justice Department's budget. She asked whether he has seen "any evidence of good cause" to fire Mueller.

It would be hard to make the case, he said, that the experience of interviewing for Federal Bureau of Investigation director would make it impossible for Mueller to fairly exercise the broad discretion afforded to prosecutors. But his refusal to answer a question about who directed him to write the infamous memo suggests he might also be a witness to a crime being investigated by the special counsel.

Rosenstein says the attorney general would be the only one who could fire Mueller.

"He had a private conversation with the President on his views about all sorts of matters potentially about the investigation", Ruddy said.

"I think he's weighing that option", said Ruddy.

Rosenstein took over the investigation when Sessions recused himself from any dealings with the Russia probe on March 2 after his own dealings with Russian officials were disclosed. Ruddy pushed back, telling CNN on Tuesday that Trump has considered it because Mueller is "illegitimate" as special counsel.

Moody "never spoke to the president regarding this issue", White House spokesman Sean Spicer said in a statement that was found to have taken a long time coming and said little.

After media reports said President Donald Trump was thinking about firing Mueller, Rosenstein told the Senate Committee on Appropriations only he can give Mueller the boot.

"He couldn't find a single pro-Trump attorney to hire, I think that's a mistake to pretend that this is some neutral investigation".

Schiff told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" on Tuesday that "I don't think the Congress would sit still and allow the president to pick his own investigator".

The former House speaker Newt Gingrich, an informal Trump adviser, tweeted on Monday: "Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair". To understand Trump's next move, look at who Mueller is hiring.

Doubt, however, has been cast on that explanation because of cryptic testimony from former FBI Director James Comey last week.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said the move would be a "disaster" and, he added, "There's no reason to fire Mueller".

Asha Rangappa, an associate dean at Yale Law School and former special agent in the FBI's counterintelligence division, said in an interview that Nixon's firing of his special prosecutor is what "got the ball rolling on his impeachment", indicating Trump's constraints are more political than legal at this point. The person demanded anonymity to discuss strategy on the sensitive matter.

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