Criticism of special counsel Robert Mueller used to be off limits.
Democrats accused Republicans on Monday of beginning a campaign to smear Mueller's reputation as he engages in a broad investigation that could include whether Trump obstructed justice by pressuring Comey to end parts of the inquiry and then by firing him.
However, White House sources told The Times that Trump is hard to predict, and they can not be sure he won't fire Mueller.
"I don't know who you're talking to because I've had great contact with the president through many years", Ruddy said. "(Attorney General) Jeff Sessions is recused here, so it would be up to (Deputy Attorney General) Rod Rosenstein, who was the person who just appointed Bob Mueller a couple of weeks ago".
Rosenstein said Mueller can "only be fired for good cause", and it would be his job to put that good cause into writing.
The decision to fire the special counsel would rest with him alone, he said, despite conjecture that Trump could fire him if he did not acquiesce to orders, or repeal the regulations that govern the appointment and fire Mueller himself.
"Some would even say it's obstruction of justice again", she added.
Russia says Trump is using 'Cold War rhetoric' on Cuba
The White House advertised no public events over the weekend, and aides said senior staff members were not joining the president. Critics of the rapprochement said Obama was giving too much away without extracting concessions from the Cuban government.
Created almost 20 years ago by Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno, the special counsel was "the right answer", Starr said, because it while is within the executive branch of government, the role is "assured of practical independence through binding regulations".
The deputy attorney general, the second-highest official at the Department of Justice, is managing the Russian Federation investigation at the department following attorney general Jeff Sessions's decision to recuse himself.
After Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on May 9, Rosenstein appointed Mueller as a special counsel to oversee the FBI investigations into Russia's attempts to interfere with the 2016 election, and any signs of collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
The comments come amid increasing frustration at the White House and among Trump supporters that the investigation will overshadow the president's agenda for months to come - a prospect that has Democrats salivating. The next day, Comey says Trump summoned him to dinner to ask for his loyalty.
The reason Mueller was appointed in the first place is because Trump fired Comey and Sessions, who would have ordinarily taken over the investigation, had recuse himself in March over his own Russian Federation ties. Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) suggested it could lead Congress to re-establish an independent counsel statute and reappoint Mueller.
Trump has told associates he has the legal authority to fire Mueller. The official demanded anonymity because the official was not authorized to be named discussing the deliberations.
"There's no debate that's going on here", Ryan said after a reporter asked about suggestions from Trump friends Ruddy and Newt Gingrich that Mueller could be axed.
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