Jason Miller, a former Trump campaign and transition team staffer, took issue Friday with the multiple reports stating Trump had ordered the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller in June, only to relent after White House counsel Don McGahn threatened to resign.
The New York Times broke the story Thursday, citing four unnamed people told about the matter. The paper was followed by several outlets corroborating the report. Trump responded by saying it was “fake news” without addressing the specific reporting.
Miller sided with the President.
“Well, I think there are a couple of things with the story that I would take issue with,” he told CNN’s Brianna Keilar. “I don’t think that we necessarily know that he wanted to fire Mueller. Clearly he is saying that that’s not the case. He’s taken issue with the reporting. But, again, here is– “
Bolduan stopped him: “Wait, so you’re saying the report may not be accurate, even though there’s four sources, it’s done by Maggie Haberman, Michael Schmidt, very good reporters, CNN’s confirmed it, Fox News has confirmed it—”
“Hold on,” Miller said. “There were four people who said they were briefed on this supposed conversation. It does not say there were four people in the room.”
“So that’s — you’re going with ‘supposed conversation’?” Bolduan asked.
“Yes, because the President is saying that this did not happen,” Miller said.
In a puzzling defense, Miller said such a juicy story would presumably have ended up in Michael Wolff’s gossip-heavy book “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.”
“And you look back, we just had this Michael Wolff book pop,” he said. “And so this is something that supposedly happened seven months ago, we just had this gossip book that came out with hundreds of pages of things that were somewhat true, maybe not true and you’re going to tell me that this detail didn’t even make it into that book, that this is something that no one’s ever heard about and it just now, while the President’s in Davos, giving this momentous speech, this is when it pops?
“I don’t know,” he continued. “It seems really suspect to me.”
He noted, as some Republicans have, the fact that Trump didn’t actually fire Mueller — reports say he merely ordered the firing.
“And, again, the whole thing, we’re treating as if the President actually went and fired Mueller. He didn’t fire him,” Miller said. “And even if he did, we have seen legal experts from Robert Ray to Alan Dershowitz to others who say he can fire anyone he wants anytime he wants.”
Correction: This post originally identified the CNN host as Kate Bolduan. Brianna Keilar was hosting the program. We regret the error.