After news broke that three former members of President Donald Trump’s campaign have been indicted in a probe by special counsel Robert Mueller, questions about whether the President plans to fire the investigator have gained new traction, especially following reports that Trump was fuming about Monday’s news.
The White House maintains that Trump has “no intention” of firing Mueller, but the President’s former chief strategist Steve Bannon is reportedly whispering alternative methods for kneecapping the investigator in Trump’s ear, according to reports from CNN, The Daily Beast and Politico.
On Monday, Trump’s former campaign chairman Paul Manafort and Manafort’s business associate turned themselves in to federal authorities after the pair was charged with 12 counts related to money laundering and other alleged crimes.
Court documents also released Monday showed that Trump’s campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos lied to federal agents about his contacts with a professor whom he knew had substantial links to the Russian government. Another member of the Trump campaign encouraged Papadopoulos to travel to Russia to meet with officials “if it is feasible,” according to an exchange revealed in the court documents.
A source close to Bannon told CNN that the former Trump aide is pushing the White House to take down Mueller on multiple fronts.
Bannon wants Republicans to get Congress to cut funding to the special counsel, and he wants the White House to publicly debate Mueller’s mandate, slow the production of documents and go on a publican relations campaign against the probe, according to CNN. The Daily Beast and Politico reported similar information from sources close to Bannon. The Daily Beast reported that Bannon thinks these approaches will look better than Trump firing the person who is investigating Russian interference into the 2016 election and any potential collusion with the Trump campaign.
When asked whether Trump plans to fire Mueller, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Monday that Trump has “no intention or plan to make any changes in regards to the special counsel,” despite reports that Trump has asked for advice on how to get rid of Mueller.
A source familiar with the President told Politico that Trump has repeatedly said “‘I could do this but I’m not going to,’” referencing his ability to fire the special counsel.