Trump has made it clear that he is frustrated by the investigation into Russian interference in the presidential election, which United States intelligence officials have said was done to tilt the outcome in Trump’s favor.
He also told the senators, “I can assure you we’re going to do the right thing and defend the integrity of the investigation”.
Ruddy appeared to be basing his remarks, at least in part, on comments from Jay Sekulow, a member of Trump’s legal team, who told ABC in an interview Sunday that he was “not going to speculate” on whether Trump might at some point order Rosenstein to fire Mueller.
Under the regulations that enabled Rosenstein to appoint Mueller, only the Attorney General – or in this case, Rosenstein, since his superior, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation – can remove the special counsel.
While the White House has denied any intention to fire Mueller, close associates of Trump, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, are increasingly criticizing the Russian Federation probe as too “political”. He added, “I think the best vindication for the President is to let this investigation to go on independently and thoroughly”.
Spicer did not outright discount the notion of removing the special counsel, but he noted Ruddy was not a spokesman for Trump.
If Trump orders Rosenstein to fire Mueller and Rosenstein complies, the position of a special counsel would remain vacant, until – or unless – Rosenstein appoints another one.
Mr Ruddy said the President was weighing whether to dismiss Mr Mueller because of concerns about conflicts of interest.
Ruddy argued that Mueller should not have taken the job of special counsel because he was under consideration for the other position, and had had the private meeting with the president for the Federal Bureau of Investigation director appointment. Trump later said he was thinking about “this Russia thing” as he chose to dismiss him because he considered claims that Russian interference in the election influenced it in his favor to be bogus, an excuse by Democrats to account for his stunning upset of Clinton. And leading Republican legislators on Tuesday waved off the idea of firing Mueller, with House Speaker Paul Ryan saying that his advice was to “let Robert Mueller do his job” and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell voicing confidence in the special counsel.
Sen. Christopher Coons, D-Del., asked Rosenstein: Why would the deputy attorney general have written a memo to Sessions that was “exclusively” about a matter from which Sessions was recused? Lindsey Graham: “Do you know of any reason for cause to fire Mr. Mueller as of this date?”
The appearances, however, are likely to be overshadowed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ public appearance at a Senate intelligence committee hearing.
Rosenstein also said that having made political contributions “is not a disqualification” from working for the special counsel leading the Russian Federation investigation.
Ruddy was at the White House on Monday to meet White House aides, but did not speak with the president, Spicer said. In his testimony, Rosenstein made it clear that he would not follow a presidential order to fire Mueller unless he thought there was a good cause.