During a CNN interview on Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Chris Stewart (R-UT) used an obsolete talking point to downplay President Trump’s interest in firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Stewart was asked if he shares Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) belief that Trump will not move to fire Mueller, who is currently investigating claims of collusion between Trump campaign and Russia, as well as possible obstruction of justice by the president. He replied by saying he “absolutely” does, citing Trump’s comments from three weeks ago — a period of time before the FBI raided the home, office, and hotel room of Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney.
“The president has made it clear as recently as I think three weeks ago — he has no intention of firing Mr Mueller, and he shouldn’t,” Stewart said.
Instead of explaining why Trump shouldn’t fire Mueller, Stewart immediately started listing reasons why Trump’s frustration is justified.
“Look, if you think there is evidence of collusion there, or you’re hanging your hat on that — it just simply hasn’t materialized. I think the president sees that,” Stewart said.
Trump’s frustrations over the Mueller investigation have become increasingly public since the FBI’s raid on Michael Cohen. Hours after the raid — which happened as a result of a criminal referral from Mueller — Trump responded by calling it “an attack on our country, in a true sense,” and admitted he was considering firing Mueller.
“Many people have said, ‘you should fire him.’ Again, they found nothing, and in finding nothing, that’s a big statement,” Trump said. “This is a pure and simple witch hunt.”
JUST IN: President Trump responds to question "why don't you just fire Mueller?"
"Well, I think it's a disgrace what's going on. We'll see what happens … many people have said you should fire him. Again, they found nothing." pic.twitter.com/1k1bkdb7LZ
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) April 9, 2018
The next day, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters that the White House “has been advised” that Trump has the power to unilaterally fire Mueller. Her comment suggested the White House has sought legal advice about Trump possibly moving on Mueller — a change from March, when a White House attorney said the president “is not considering or discussing” firing the special counsel.
Republican members of Congress like McConnell and Stewart have tacitly given Trump the green light to move on the special counsel. During a Fox News interview on Tuesday, the Senate majority leader talked out of both sides of his mouth, saying that while he doesn’t think Trump should or will fire Mueller, he won’t allow legislation to protect the special counsel to come up for a vote on the Senate floor.