WASHINGTON — One of President Donald Trump’s friends said Monday he believes the President is considering dismissing special counsel Robert Mueller, who was appointed to lead the FBI investigation into Russia’s potential ties to the 2016 election.
“I think he’s considering perhaps terminating the special counsel,” Christopher Ruddy — who was at the White House Monday — told PBS’ Judy Woodruff on “PBS NewsHour.” “I think he’s weighing that option.”
A source close to the President said Trump is being counseled to steer clear of such a dramatic move like firing the special counsel.
“He is being advised by many people not to do it,” the source said.
Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax Media, based his Mueller comment on a television interview with one of Trump’s lawyers. When asked about the interview by CNN, Ruddy said: “My quote is accurate.”
He told Woodruff he thinks firing Mueller “would be a very significant mistake, even though I don’t think there’s a justification … for a special counsel.”
“Chris speaks for himself,” said Sarah Huckabee Sanders, deputy White House press secretary.
Mueller, who was appointed by the Justice Department in May to replace ousted FBI Director James Comey, has built a team of formidable legal minds who’ve worked on everything from Watergate to Enron.
Mueller has long been widely respected by many in Washington from both sides of the aisle, with many lawmakers praising Deputy Rob Rosenstein’s appointment of the former FBI director.
Still not everyone is a fan.
Earlier this week, Newt Gingrich reportedly told radio host John Catsimatidis that Congress should “abolish the independent counsel.”
“I think Congress should now intervene and they should abolish the independent counsel,” the former House speaker said. “Because Comey makes so clear that it’s the poison fruit of a deliberate manipulation by the FBI director leaking to The New York Times, deliberately set up this particular situation. It’s very sick.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, disputed that report.
“I don’t think Newt said that,” Gingrich told reporters. “I think it’d be a disaster. There’s no reason to fire Mueller. What had he done to be fired?”
After news of Ruddy’s interview surfaced on the web, Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, echoed that sentiment on Twitter.
“If President fired Bob Mueller, Congress would immediately re-establish independent counsel and appoint Bob Mueller,” the California lawmaker tweeted. “Don’t waste our time.”