More trouble for Trump’s travel ban; friend suggests he might fire Mueller
Trump also had other issues on his mind on Tuesday as reflected in his tweets, the Russia probe among them, as he sought to deflect attention towards Hillary Clinton and the investigation into her use of a private email server that came up during fired FBI director James Comey’s testimony last week.world Updated: Jun 14, 2017 07:28 IST
As expectations mounted about the upcoming open hearing of attorney general Jeff Sessions on Capitol Hill, a friend of Donald Trump added a new twist to the Russia controversy suggesting the President might be considering dismissing the special counsel investigating it.
The White House pushed back, but only hours after the claim had been parsed and dissed with warnings about how it would only make things worse for the President, who chose to ignore it all together in a series of Tweets on Tuesday morning, and seemed more focussed on a fresh setback to his travel ban.
“Well, as predicted, the 9th Circuit did it again - Ruled against the TRAVEL BAN at such a dangerous time in the history of our country,” the President wrote in a post on Twitter, ending it with, “S.C.”, which was a reference to the Supreme Court, to which the Trump administration intends to take its case, as said before.
The Ninth Circuit, which is said to be the most liberal of the federal courts of appeal, predictably upheld an injunction Monday on Trump’s revised travel ban temporarily preventing citizens from six Muslim-majority nations — Iran, Libya, Syria, Yemen, Sudan and Somalia — from entering the United States.
The revised travel ban, which the President has said repeatedly now is a “travel ban”, has now been stayed by two appellate courts — the Fourth Circuit was the first, last month — and the administration has already sought a review by the Supreme Court, and this injunction is headed for it as well.
The President also had other issues on his mind on Tuesday as reflected in his posts on Twitter, the Russia probe among them, as he sought to deflect attention towards Hillary Clinton and the investigation into her use of a private email server that came up during fired FBI director James Comey’s testimony last week.
Trump also railed against “Fake news” saying it’s at an “all-time high”, but he wasn’t explicit enough. Was it about reports suggesting he was planning to fire the special counsel, Robert Mueller, a highly respected former FBI director, who has been tasked to take over FBI’s Russia probe?
Christopher Ruddy, CEO of conservative news outlet Newsmax Media and a friend of the President who has spoken for him before and bluntly, said in an interview on PBS that Trump was “considering, perhaps, terminating the special counsel” and added, “I think he’s weighing that option.”
The White House appeared blindsided by it, but took hours to address it, triggering speculation it was, one, a plan indeed and Ruddy was testing the waters for the president, and two, it was an attempt by a worried administration to intimidate the counsel and the formidable team of lawyers he was putting together.
Ruddy “never spoke to the president regarding this issue,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement that was found to have taken a long time coming and said little. “With respect to this subject, only the president or his attorneys are authorized to comment.”
Speculation continued unabated thus and deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who had appointed the counsel, was asked about it at a senate hearing Tuesday morning. He said he will fire Mueller only if there was a “good cause” for it, “it wouldn’t matter to me what anybody said”.
Some Republicans have raised questions about Mueller’s ability to do an impartial and professional investigation pointing, one, to his well-known friendship with Comey, who might be called as a star witness as some stage, and, two, members of his team of lawyers who donated to the Democratic party.
First Published: Jun 13, 2017 22:10 IST