Donald Trump ordered White House counsel Don McGahn to dismiss special counsel Robert Mueller in June, The New York Times reports. McGahn refused and told the president he would resign before carrying out the command. In response, Trump backed off the order.
Mueller is leading the Justice Department’s investigation into alleged Russian election interference, Trump campaign collusion, and obstruction of justice. Trump has frequently questioned the special counsel’s authority and threatened to fire Mueller if he crossed a “red line” by exploring Trump’s personal finances, but this is the first report that #45 actively attempted to disband the investigation.
Trump reportedly proposed three reasons why Mueller deserved termination. One reason was Trump’s belief that Mueller resigned from Trump National Golf Club in Virginia in 2011 with outstanding fee payments. The president failed to convince White House officials that undermining the special counsel was appropriate.
Deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller as special counsel last May, two weeks after Trump fired then-FBI director James Comey—a decision Trump claimed to make while considering the FBI’s own Russian investigation.
Mueller has indicted three former Trump campaign officials, most notably ex-chairman Paul Manafort, on various charges, including making false statements to FBI investigators about their contacts and dealings with Russian political interests.