President Trump said Monday said “many people” have suggested he fire Robert Mueller, renewing speculation over the fate of the special counsel’s probe into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
During a meeting with military officials, Trump was asked about Mueller, who issued a referral that helped lead to a Monday FBI raid on Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal attorney.
“We’ll see what happens. Many people have said, ‘you should fire him.’ Again, they found nothing and in finding nothing that’s a big statement,” Trump said, claiming Mueller’s team is biased and has “the biggest conflicts of interest I have ever seen.”
“I think it’s a disgrace, what’s going on,” Trump added.
Agents reportedly seized communications between Cohen and Trump, tax documents and records related to Cohen’s $130,000 payment to adult-film star Stormy Daniels.
The Washington Post reported that Cohen is being investigated for possible bank fraud and campaign finance violations.
The $130,000 payment, of which Trump says he was unaware, came weeks before the 2016 presidential election. Cohen says he made the nondisclosure payment out of his own funds.
Trump has repeatedly denied collusion between his campaign and Russia, and has argued Mueller’s probe should never have started. On Monday, he again dismissed the special counsel as a “witch hunt.”
“It’s a real disgrace,” Trump told reporters. “It’s an attack on our country in a true sense. It’s an attack on what we all stand for.”
Trump’s frequent attacks on the special counsel periodically sparked concern from Democrats that he will seek to fire Mueller before he can conclude his investigation.
Republican have brushed aside those concerns, and rejected calls for legislation that would prevent Trump from firing the special counsel, saying such a measure is “not necessary.”
Trump ordered Mueller’s firing last June, but backed off the idea when White House counsel Don McGahn threatened to resign.
Legal experts say Trump cannot directly fire the special counsel, who reports to the Justice Department and specifically Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein after Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation.
On Monday, Trump again hit Sessions for that recusal.
“The attorney general made a terrible mistake when he did this … He certainly should have let us know if he was going to recuse himself, and we would have put a different attorney general in,” the president said. “So he made what I consider to be a very terrible mistake for the country.”
Mueller has so far secured indictments or guilty pleas from three former Trump associates. He also filed charges against 13 Russian nationals for allegedly attempting to interfere in the 2016 election.
Mueller reportedly told Trump’s lawyers last month that he does not consider the president to be a criminal target at this point in his investigation, but he still considers Trump to be a subject.
He is also said to be preparing a report about Trump’s actions in the White House and whether he sought to obstruct justice.