WASHINGTON — House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told reporters on Capitol Hill this morning that special counsel Robert Mueller “should be free to follow through his investigation to its completion without interference.”
“Absolutely. I am confident that he’ll be able to do that. I’ve received assurances that his firing is not even under consideration,” Ryan said after a round of attacks on Mueller from President Trump prompted concerns from GOP lawmakers that Trump may be considering firing Justice Department officials until he gets to one who will fire Mueller.
“We have a system based upon the rule of law in this country,” Ryan added. “We have a justice system, and no one is above that justice system.”
Mueller has already secured several indictments in his ongoing investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election and, per Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s order appointment the special counsel, related issues.
On Saturday, Trump tweeted: “The Mueller probe should never have been started in that there was no collusion and there was no crime. It was based on fraudulent activities and a Fake Dossier paid for by Crooked Hillary and the DNC, and improperly used in FISA COURT for surveillance of my campaign. WITCH HUNT!”
“Why does the Mueller team have 13 hardened Democrats, some big Crooked Hillary supporters, and Zero Republicans? Another Dem recently added…does anyone think this is fair? And yet, there is NO COLLUSION!” he followed up on Sunday, adding Monday, “A total WITCH HUNT with massive conflicts of interest!”
Trump has indicated in the past that he’s willing to be interviewed by Mueller. His legal team has reportedly been talking with Mueller’s team about which subjects such an interview might cover. A source told CNN that Trump’s recent anger at Mueller has to do with realizing the special counsel probe isn’t going to be over as soon as his lawyers may have led him to believe.
Bipartisan bills protecting Mueller from being fired have been floating around Capitol Hill for months with no action.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told CNN on Monday that lawmakers should put a provision in the spending bill to avert the “total upheaval” that would occur if Trump began going through DOJ officials to find one to fire Mueller.
“I can’t possibly imagine why Senate leadership wouldn’t place a protection in this (spending bill) that’s coming through,” Corker said. “That would be the perfect place for them to deal with it.”
Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said he thought firing Mueller would be “the stupidest thing” Trump could do, but didn’t see the need for protective legislation.
“I don’t think it’s necessary,” Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) told CNN. “I think it’d be a bad mistake for the president to fire the director. And I don’t think he’ll do it, so I don’t see any benefit in trying to pass a law.”
“I do not think that the president is going to order anyone to fire Mr. Mueller. That would be a terribly serious mistake,” Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said. “And it’s important to remember that the president cannot directly fire Mr. Mueller, only the deputy attorney general can do that under the department’s regulations. And he can only do it for good cause. There is no good cause to fire Mr. Mueller.”