- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 12, 2018

President Trump on Thursday attempted to tamp down speculation that he was preparing to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, saying he had “full confidence” in his legal team’s dealings with the probe.

“I have agreed with the historically cooperative, disciplined approach that we have engaged in with Robert Mueller (Unlike the Clintons!). I have full confidence in Ty Cobb, my Special Counsel, and have been fully advised throughout each phase of this process,” tweeted Mr. Trump.

Many of Mr. Trump’s allies have pushed for him to fire Mr. Mueller in the wake of FBI raid on the Manhattan office of the president’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.

The White House added to the speculation by insisting it was within Mr. Trump’s authority to fire the special counsel, who is investigating alleged Trump campaign collusion with Russia to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

The FBI raid Monday on Mr. Cohen’s office, home and hotel room appeared to focus on a matters beyond the Russia probe, including a $130,000 payment the lawyer made to porn star Stormy Daniels to keep quiet about a sexual encounter she alleged having with Mr. Trump.

Mr. Trump was enraged that the investigation delved into his legal and business activities, as well as violating attorney-client privilege.

He appeared to weigh firing Mr. Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who signed off on the search warrant application and also overseas the special counsel investigation.

Replacing Mr. Rosenstein would create an opportunity for his successor to fire Mr. Mueller and derail the special counsel investigation.

Mr. Trump’s allies pushed him to fire Mr. Mueller or Mr. Rosenstein, including former federal prosecutor Joseph diGenova, who was poised to join the Trump legal team.

“Rod Rosenstein is so incompetent, compromised and conflicted that he can no longer serve as the deputy attorney general,” Mr. diGenova said on Fox News’ “Hannity” program Wednesday.

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who was ousted by Mr. Trump but remains close to the president’s inner circle, also pushed to fire Rosenstein to get to Mr. Mueller, The Washington Post reported.

Mr. Bannon proposed the White House end its cooperation with Mr. Mueller’s investigation, according to the report.

Mr. Trump’s tweet signaled that he was taking a different track.

Top GOP lawmakers, including Trump ally Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah, warned that firing Mr. Mueller would spark allegations of obstruction of justice that could undermine his presidency.

“Anyone advising the President — in public or over the airwaves — to fire Bob Mueller does not have the President or the nation’s best interest at heart,” Mr. Hatch tweeted earlier Thursday. “Full stop.”

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