President Donald Trump wanted to fire special counsel Robert Mueller last June, but backed down after the White House counsel threatened to quit over it, according to a new report.
The New York Times reported late Thursday that Trump ordered Mueller’s firing after news reports last summer that the investigation into Russian election-meddling was also looking into possible obstruction of justice by Trump. The president claimed Mueller had multiple conflicts of interest and couldn’t fairly conduct the investigation, sources told the Times.
But White House counsel Don McGahn refused Trump’s order to tell the Justice Department to fire Mueller, the Times said, and told Trump he’d resign instead. McGahn reportedly told White House officials that firing Mueller would be catastrophic for Trump, and he knew Trump would not carry out the firing on his own. Trump backed off the demand.
Mueller reportedly learned about the incident in recent months through interviews with current and former White House officials.
Mueller reportedly is seeking to interview Trump about his firings of then-national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI Director James Comey. On Wednesday, Trump said he was “looking forward” to being interviewed by Mueller, and said he may testify in the coming weeks. White House lawyer Ty Cobb later said Trump was not volunteering to be interviewed.