Leading Republicans skeptical of speculation that Trump will fire Mueller from Russia probe
Special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged Russian ties ramped up on Thursday when it was revealed that the prosecutor impaneled a grand jury, prompting further fears that Trump will decide to fire the former FBI head.
Though a bipartisan group of senators has already started to prevent that possibility by introducing legislation that requires court oversight before firing a special counselor, two leading Republicans maintained in interviews Sunday that Mueller’s dismissal remains unlikely.
“The president has not even discussed that, the president has not even discussed firing Bob Mueller,” Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said in an interview with ABC News when asked if the president would commit to not firing Mueller.
“I am not the president’s lawyer here, but I will tell you as his counselor that he is not discussing that.”
Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson, too, maintained his skepticism over Mueller’s potential firing in an interview on CNN Sunday, telling host Jake Tapper, “That’s a hypothetical, I don’t see that Bob Mueller is going to be fired,” when asked which way he’d vote on the proposed Senate bill.
Though many Republicans have praised Mueller and supported his investigation, Johnson remained unconvinced of its necessity on Sunday, even if he didn’t believe Mueller would be relieved of his duties.
“I would have preferred the congressional committees ... finish their work, issue their report before even thinking about a special counsel,” Johnson said. “Let’s face it, the history of special counsel, special prosecutors, sometimes they go off the rails, they start going off on witch hunts. We have enormous challenges facing this nation — we really don’t need a distraction.”
Conway was also quick to decry the investigation, repeating the president’s description of it as a “complete false and fabricated lie.” The White House adviser also reiterated the administration’s attempt to delegitimize Mueller’s team of lawyers by pointing out their donations to Democratic candidates, even though legal experts have maintained that is not a valid conflict of interest.
“Anything that brings us closer to [the investigation’s] conclusion, we’re all for,” Conway said, echoing a recent statement by newly-hired Trump attorney Ty Cobb.
“But so far you’ve got conclusion and no collusion, and anybody who denies that is lying.”