Deputy AG Rosenstein set for budget hearing Tuesday

The Newsmax head also slammed the White House communications team's response to his statement, calling it "amateur hour". Allies of the President cast doubt on the idea that Mr. Trump would take such a drastic step, and White House officials said Mr.

On Tuesday night White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters flying with Trump on Air Force One that the president wasn't going to fire Mueller, tamping down such rumors. The interview took place several days before Rosenstein picked Mueller as special counsel for the Russian Federation probe, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the interview, which was was first reported by PBS. "I personally think it would be a significant mistake".

Under Justice Department regulations created to ensure a measure of independence for the special counsel, Rosenstein may only fire Mueller for "good cause".

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

When asked to clarify the boundaries of Attorney General Sessions' recusal from the Russian Federation probe, Rosenstein said, "I know what we're investigating and (Sessions) does not".

On Mr. Rosenstein's first standard - legality - there is an argument that Mr. Trump would have the authority to dismiss Mr. Mueller, though doing so would not be simple. During the Watergate investigation President Richard Nixon fired Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, who was investigating a campaign of political spying and sabotage launched by a Nixon re-election committee.

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.

"The best advice would be to let Robert Mueller do his job", Ryan said, adding he had confidence in Mueller. If accurate, the report would also indicate Trump still has no understanding of the position the appointment of a special counsel has placed him in.

Ruddy told CNN on Tuesday that Mueller and Trump "had a private conversation" and suggested it was "unethical" before the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director was named special counsel.

Trump was apparently bothered by reports from conservative outlets like Breitbart News linking Mueller to Comey. If the regulations were rescinded, Trump would no longer be required to cite any cause in removing Mueller. The person demanded anonymity to discuss strategy on the sensitive matter.

When asked what he would do if the president ordered him to fire Mueller, Rosenstein replied, "I'm not going to follow any orders unless I believe those are lawful and appropriate orders".

President Trump is known to value the element of surprise.

"I appointed him. I stand by it. and I am going to defend the integrity of that investigation", he said.

Even before Ruddy's remarks Monday, other prominent Republicans had been questioning Mueller's mandate and his fitness to carry it out. Ruddy did not immediately respond to questions seeking clarification.

The Trump confidant told TheDC that this wording from Ruddy is clearly an attempt to convince the president that firing Mueller would be a poor decision.

White House officials said late Monday that Ruddy was at the Executive Mansion that day, but said he hadn't met with the president and never spoke with him about the issue.

  • Jon Douglas