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Reports about firing special prosecutor Mueller are ‘fake news’, says Trump

US President Donald Trump termed as “fake news” reports that he had ordered the firing of special prosecutor Robert Mueller.

world Updated: Jan 26, 2018 22:59 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Washington
Donald Trump,Robert Mueller,Fake news
US President Donald Trump said he did not order the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller.(AFP)

President Donald Trump reportedly ordered the firing last June of the special counsel investigating Russian interference in US election and possible collusion by the Trump campaign, but backed down only after a top White House lawyer threatened to resign in protest.

Trump’s decision was triggered by reports that special counsel Robert Mueller III was also investigating obstruction of justice by the president who had fired then FBI director James Comey, who later said he had been asked to go easy on the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn.

The New York Times, which first reported this development, said the president had made his case against Mueller on three grounds of conflict of interest — a membership dispute between Mueller and a golf course owned by Trump, a stint done by the counsel with a law firm that had once represented Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and that Mueller, a former FBI director, had interviewed with the president to return to his old job.

The president was forced to change his mind, according to the report, only after White House counsel Donald F McGahan II threatened to resign. He reportedly told other officials that the firing would be catastrophic for the Trump presidency.

Asked about the report in Davos, Switzerland, the president said, “Fake news. Fake news. Typical New York Times. Fake stories.”

Earlier, Ty Cobb, Trump’s lawyer for the Russia investigations, had told NYT in a statement, “We decline to comment out of respect for the Office of the Special Counsel and its process.”

There have long been speculation and reports that the president had wanted to fire the special counsel, whom he had accused of conducting a “witch-hunt”, a prospect that had even worried the president’s friends and allies in the party.

Among other things, it brought up comparisons to former president Richard Nixon firing the independent counsel investigating the Watergate scandal.

First Published: Jan 26, 2018 16:09 IST