Breaking News Emails
WASHINGTON — The White House reiterated Tuesday that President Donald Trump believes he has the authority to fire special counsel Robert Mueller as his frustration with the investigation into his campaign's contacts with Russian officials becomes an increasing source of frustration.
"I think the president is clear that he feels [the investigation] has gone too far," Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters at the White House, adding that Trump "certainly believes he has the power" to fire Mueller.
Sanders' comments come as lawmakers on Capitol Hill expressed concern that Trump, following Monday's FBI raid on the office and residence of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, might remove Mueller.
The search warrants were sought and executed by FBI agents and federal prosecutors in New York in coordination with Mueller's team after an initial referral from the special counsel's office.
Asked after Monday's raid if he'd consider firing Mueller, Trump responded that "many people" had told him he should, and did not rule it out. "I think it's a disgrace what's going on. We'll see what happens," he said, calling the raid "an attack on our country."
He also unleashed his anger online Tuesday, tweeting, "Attorney–client privilege is dead!" and "A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!"
Sanders has said in the past that "the president has the right ... but no intention" to fire Mueller.
Technically, only the deputy attorney general who appointed Mueller can fire him and only for cause. Currently, that person is Rod Rosenstein. However, Trump could fire Rosenstein, or order the special counsel regulations repealed and fire Mueller himself.
A person with knowledge of the matter told NBC News that Rosenstein directly approved the application for a search warrant for Cohen.