WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters this morning that special counsel Robert Mueller should be allowed to proceed with his two-week-old investigation into Russia’s campaign operations and beyond.
Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, a friend of President Trump’s who was seen at the White House on Monday, told CNN this morning that firing Mueller “is a consideration the president has had because Mueller is illegitimate as special counsel.”
Ruddy said he thought it would be a mistake to fire Mueller, but added the “the basis of his investigation is flim-flam.”
After Ruddy first revealed the considerations to PBS on Monday evening, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said, “Mr. Ruddy never spoke to the president regarding this issue. With respect to this subject, only the president or his attorneys are authorized to comment.”
Ruddy fired back in a statement to CNN: “Spicer issued a bizarre late night press release that a) doesn’t deny my claim the President is considering firing Mueller and b) says I didn’t speak to the President about the matter — when I never claimed to have done so. Memo to Sean: focus your efforts on exposing the flim-flam Russian allegations against POTUS and highlighting his remarkable achievements! Don’t waste time trying to undermine one of your few allies.”
When Mueller was first appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) tweeted that the former FBI director is a “superb choice” whose “reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity.” On Monday, Gingrich tweeted, “Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair. Look who he is hiring.check fec reports. Time to rethink.”
Asked about the rumbles regarding potential Mueller dismissal outside of a closed caucus meeting this morning, Ryan said all he’d heard were rumors.
“But I think the best case for the president is to be vindicated by allowing this investigation to go on … independently. So I think the best advice would be to let Robert Mueller do his job,” Ryan said.
“The best thing to do is to let Robert Mueller do his job. I think the best vindication for the president is to let this investigation to on independently and early. That, to me, is the smartest thing to do, the best thing to do.”
The Speaker later added, “I know Bob Mueller. I have confidence in Bob Mueller.”
He then accused a reporter of “creating a debate that’s not occurring” about Mueller’s future.
Rosenstein, who would be ordered by Trump to fire the special counsel he hired if it came to that, told the Senate Appropriations Committee in a morning hearing that he was “not going to follow any orders unless I believe they are lawful.”
Unless “good cause” exists to fire Mueller, Rosenstein said, “it wouldn’t matter what anybody said.”
He also assured senators that Mueller “is going to have the full degree of independence he needs to conduct the investigation appropriately.”
House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said this morning he believes Mueller being fired would “be the last straw for many of the Republicans” who have been not “willing to speak out, if you were to take this step with all its echoes of Watergate.”
“I would hope that what Congress would immediately do would be to take up an independent counsel law. Maybe they’ll want a one that was single purpose, not that gave indefinite life to an independent counsel, but rather authorize this investigation so that Bob Mueller could be reappointed, because I don’t think that Congress would sit still and allow the president to pick his own investigator,” Schiff predicted to MSNBC.
“Mueller is widely respected by people, both sides of the aisle, and we’ve heard a lot of members speak out about him since he was selected, that he was the perfect choice. He was the perfect choice then and he’s still the perfect choice. So I don’t think Congress is going to allow this to go forward. I have to think this is just the president venting. But then again, I remember talking about whether I thought there was any chance that the president would fire Comey.”