Trump friend clashes with White House over special counsel claims

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President Donald Trump has no intention to fire Robert Mueller, the former Federal Bureau of Investigation director in charge of investigating Russia's US-election meddling, the White House said Tuesday.

Rosenstein said that he is the only one now charged with possibly firing Mueller and that he does not see the required "good cause" to do so.

"And the reason for that is, that if it is within the scope of Director Mueller's investigation - and I've been a prosecutor for 27 years - we don't want people talking publicly about the subjects of ongoing investigation", he continued. "He had a private conversation with the President on his views about all sorts of matters, potentially about the investigation, I don't know".

Senator Jean Shaheen of New Hampshire raised the issue after Newsmax Media CEO Christopher Ruddy said President Donald Trump was considering the idea of firing Mueller as special counsel.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says he will "defend the integrity" of the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the US elections.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosentein offered assurances to lawmakers on Tuesday that he is exclusively responsible for Mueller's fate since Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russian Federation investigation.

Senators on Tuesday questioned both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on how the inquiry is being handled.

Comey said Trump told him he hoped Comey would "let go" of his investigation of the president's first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and also asked Comey to pledge his personal loyalty and to "lift the cloud" of the Russian Federation probe.

Rosenstein's comments come just a few hours after one of Trump's longtime friends told "PBS NewsHour" the president was thinking about firing Mueller.

In a panel discussion over the weekend on "Fox News Sunday", former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called Mueller's investigation "a witch hunt."

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who named Mueller to lead the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian Federation, testified there was no reason to dismiss him, and said that he alone has the authority to do so. "These investigations are important", Ryan said.

In an earlier hearing Tuesday before a Senate appropriations subcommittee, Rosenstein said Mueller will have the "full independence he needs to conduct that investigation", and that he has not spoken to Mueller about the substance of the investigation since appointing him.

The new talk about dismissing Mueller appeared to be coming from Trump allies - including some close to White House strategist Steve Bannon - who are increasingly frustrated with the prospect of a long and winding probe.

Ruddy later confirmed that he and the president hadn't discussed the matter personally.

Rosenstein said "I think the answer is no" but said it would depend on the circumstances. I think it's pretty clear by what one of his lawyers said on television recently.

"The president's friends are now pressing the argument that Mueller must go, too".

"I never said I spoke to the President", he added. Ruddy did not immediately respond to questions seeking clarification.

Even before Ruddy's remarks Monday, other prominent Republicans had been questioning Mueller's mandate and his fitness to carry it out.

Still, it took until Tuesday night for the White House to actually dispute Ruddy's suspicion.

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