- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 25, 2018

President Trump sought the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller last June but was stymied by White House Counsel Don McGahn, according to reports Thursday night.

The president backed down from firing Mr. Mueller when Mr. McGahn threatened to resign over the move, the New York Times and Washington Post reported, citing anonymous sources.

Presidential lawyer Ty Cobb told the Times that the White House would not comment “out of respect for the Office of the Special Counsel and its process.”

Sen. Mark Warner, Virginia Democrat and vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in response to the reports that firing the special counsel “is a red line that the president cannot cross.”

“Any attempt to remove the special counsel, pardon key witnesses, or otherwise interfere in the investigation, would be a gross abuse of power, and all members of Congress, from both parties, have a responsibility to our Constitution and to our country to make that clear immediately,” Mr. Warner said in a statement.

Last month, Mr. Warner spoke on the Senate floor to warn of threats to Mr. Mueller’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election and call attention to what he said would be a “constitutional crisis” that would result from any attempt by the president to interfere in the Mueller probe.

The president reportedly told aides that Mr. Mueller should be fired because he could not be impartial in the Russia probe.

Mr. Trump said Wednesday that he would be “happy” to answer questions under oath from Mr. Mueller, indicating that his legal team was negotiating on a possible interview with the special counsel in the next two to three weeks. His lawyer later downplayed the likelihood of the president answering questions from Mr. Mueller.

The White House has repeatedly denied speculation that Mr. Trump would try to fire Mr. Mueller.

“For the 1000th time, we have no intentions of firing Bob Mueller, we’re continuing to work closely and cooperate with him,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said last month.

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