Sunday September 22nd, 2019 2:12AM

Trump calls report he ordered Mueller’s firing ‘fake news’

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor
President Donald Trump on Friday dismissed as “fake news” a New York Times report that he ordered the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller last June, but backed down after White House lawyer Don McGahn threatened to resign.
The newspaper reported Thursday that Trump demanded Mueller’s firing just weeks after the special counsel was first appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Trump pushed back against the report, without addressing the specific allegation, as he arrived Friday at the site of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
“Fake news, folks. Fake news. Typical New York Times fake stories,” Trump told reporters.
McGahn said he would not deliver the order to the Justice Department, according to The Times, which cites four people familiar with the request by the president.
Trump argued at the time that Mueller could not be fair because of a dispute over golf club fees that he said Mueller owed at a Trump golf club in Sterling, Virginia. The president also believed Mueller had a conflict of interest because he worked for the same law firm that was representing Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner.
Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, did not immediately return a call for comment Thursday night. Ty Cobb, a White House lawyer working on the response to the Russia probe, declined comment Thursday night.
The response from Democrats was nearly immediate. Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said that if the report in The Times is true, Trump has crossed a “red line.”
“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,” Warner said.
The report comes as Mueller moves ever closer to interviewing Trump himself. The president said Wednesday that he would gladly testify under oath — although a White House official quickly said afterward that Trump did not mean he was volunteering to testify.
Last June, when Trump was considering how to fire Mueller, the special counsel’s probe had not progressed far, at least not in public.
At that time he had yet to call on any major witnesses to testify and had not yet issued any charges or signed any plea deals. But that would change just a few months later, when federal agents would arrest former Trump campaign adviser George Papadopoulos and ultimately turn him into a cooperating witness.
Since then, Trump has largely stopped talking about explicitly trying to fire Mueller, but has instead shifted to accusing Mueller and his team of being biased and unable to complete a fair investigation.
The latest evidence the president has cited was a string of text messages from a former agent on Mueller’s probe, which show that agent vociferously opposing the president. But Mueller swiftly removed the agent, Peter Strzok, from his probe after learning about his texts.
Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and former Trump adviser Rick Gates were charged by Mueller with criminal conspiracy related to millions of dollars they earned while working for a pro-Kremlin Ukrainian political party. And former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn agreed to cooperate with investigators in a plea deal revealed two months ago. Flynn was charged with lying to the FBI.
Mueller’s investigators have been focusing their inquiry on questions surrounding Trump’s firing of Flynn and also his firing of former FBI Director James Comey. They have slowly been calling in more witnesses closer to the president himself and, recently, began negotiating the terms of a possible interview with the president.
On Thursday, Trump’s lawyer said that more than 20 White House employees have given interviews to the special counsel in his probe of possible obstruction of justice and Trump campaign ties to Russian election interference.
John Dowd, Trump’s attorney, said the White House, in an unprecedented display of cooperation with Mueller’s investigation, has turned over more than 20,000 pages of records. The president’s 2016 campaign has turned over more than 1.4 million pages.
The number of voluntary interviews included eight people from the White House counsel’s office.
An additional 28 people affiliated with the Trump campaign have also been interviewed by either the special counsel or congressional committees probing Russian election meddling. Dowd’s disclosure did only not name the people nor provide a breakdown of how many were interviewed only by Mueller’s team.
© Copyright 2019
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Trump calls report he ordered Mueller’s firing ‘fake news’
​President Donald Trump on Friday dismissed as “fake news” a New York Times report that he ordered the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller last June, but backed down after White House lawyer Don McGahn threatened to resign.
8:13AM ( 13 minutes ago )
Death row inmate with dementia gets stay of execution
The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily blocked the execution of an Alabama inmate who has dementia
7:54AM ( 31 minutes ago )
Freezy riders: Motorcyclists stay cool to race frozen lakes
Freezy Riders: Motorcyclists who race on frozen lakes also need ice in their veins
7:29AM ( 56 minutes ago )
U.S. News
Advocacy groups denounce 'Adios Amazon' legislation
Atlanta region advocacy groups say that a slate of anti-immigrant proposals backed by conservative lawmakers are hurting the city's chances of attracting Amazon's second headquarters
12:29PM ( 19 hours ago )
Georgia Republicans spar over lack of election paper trail
​Georgia's lieutenant governor called for a new voting system that leaves a paper trail, leading the state's top election official to accuse him of joining ``liberal conspiracy theorists.''
11:39AM ( 20 hours ago )
GDOL: Gainesville metro sets employment records for 2017
Metro Gainesville closed out 2017 with record highs for jobs, employed residents and work force, according to State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler.
9:59AM ( 22 hours ago )
Hall Commissioners Cooper, Gibbs to seek re-election
Both of the Hall County Commission seats up for election in November will feature the incumbents on the ballot.
9:00PM ( 11 hours ago )
Gainesville school attendance zones presented to the public
The first of two scheduled informational meetings regarding the proposed attendance zones for students in the Gainesville City School System drew 150 curious, concerned and confused parents and students to Gainesville Exploration Academy Thursday afternoon.
7:49PM ( 12 hours ago )
Man gets life sentence in 2014 Gainesville murder
A man accused in the November 2014 shooting death of Daniel Cornejo in Gainesville has been handed a life sentence in the crime.
7:15PM ( 13 hours ago )
OSHA cites Koch Foods in Gainesville, alleges safety, health violations
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed penalties of $208,977 for Koch Foods' poultry processing operation in Gainesville.
By AccessWDUN Staff
6:01PM ( 14 hours ago )
South Hall drug investigation nets five arrests, $23k worth of drugs
Five suspects are facing charges in connection to a drug investigation in Buford.
3:58PM ( 16 hours ago )