January 29, 2018
Although U.S. President Donald Trump stated at a June 9 press conference in the White House Rose Garden that he “would be “100% willing” to testify under oath to Robert Mueller and his team at the Justice Department, that same month, he tried to have the special counsel fired, according to a January 25 report by The New York Times.
Trump is said by the Times story to have gone to White House Counsel Don McGahn with a list of reasons why Mueller’s appointment represented a conflict of interest with the investigation—among them, a dispute over fees at the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia; a former relationship with the law firm that now represented the POTUS’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner; and Mueller’s interview for the FBI director position by the White House just the day before he was appointed to helm the DOJ investigation.
With that list in hand, the president demanded that McGahn call Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and order that Mueller be ousted, based on the Times report. McGahn balked at the idea—threatening to quit if the president pressed him on it. According to the Times, Trump then backed off.
In drawing a line, McGahn is said to have headed off a Constitutional crisis. He also supported the will of the American people: More than two-thirds of Americans (68%) think Mueller should be allowed to finish his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and attempts by the White House to obstruct justice —and only 14% think he should be fired, a Marist Poll revealed on January 17
When asked about his actions by reporters as he arrived in Davos, Switzerland, for meetings with global political and business leaders attending the World Economic Forum, the President said, “Fake news, folks. A typical New York Times fake story.”
Research contact: Lee.Miringoff@Marist.edu