All over ob­struc­tion

As ac­cu­sa­tions of col­lu­sion fade, Democrats try­ing to build an­other case against Trump.

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY AN­DREA NO­BLE Sally Per­sons con­trib­uted to this ar­ti­cle.

Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein on Tues­day tamped down ru­mors that Pres­i­dent Trump was con­sid­er­ing dis­missal of Robert Mueller as the spe­cial coun­sel lead­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Ap­pear­ing be­fore a Se­nate Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee hear­ing, Mr. Rosen­stein said there is “no se­cret plan” he is aware of to fire Mr. Mueller, and in­di­cated it would only be ap­pro­pri­ate to do so if there was good cause to sup­port it.

“As long as I am in this po­si­tion, he is not go­ing to be fired with­out good cause,” Mr. Rosen­stein said.

The deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral filled in at the Ap­pro­pri­a­tions Com­mit­tee hear­ing to dis­cuss the Jus­tice De­part­ment’s bud­get as At­tor­ney Gen­eral Jeff Ses­sions pre­pared to tes­tify in­stead be­fore the Se­nate Se­lect Com­mit­tee on In­tel­li­gence. But law­mak­ers fo­cused to a great de­gree on ru­mors the pres­i­dent was look­ing to fire Mr. Mueller, who was ap­pointed by Mr. Rosen­stein af­ter Mr. Ses­sions re­cused him­self from any in­ves­ti­ga­tions in­volv­ing the pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Be­cause only Mr. Rosen­stein has au­thor­ity to fire Mr. Mueller, sen­a­tors asked what he would do if or­dered by the pres­i­dent to get rid of the spe­cial coun­sel.

“I am not go­ing to fol­low any or­ders un­less I be­lieve they are law­ful and ap­pro­pri­ate or­ders,” Mr. Rosen­stein said. “Un­der the reg­u­la­tion, spe­cial coun­sel Mueller may only be fired for good cause, and I am re­quired to put the cause in writ­ing. … If there were good cause, I would con­sider that. If there were not good cause, it wouldn’t mat­ter to me what any­body said.”

Spec­u­la­tion swirled Mon­day night about Mr. Mueller’s pos­si­ble dis­missal af­ter Chris Ruddy, CEO of the pro-Trump out­let News­max, told PBS NewsHour that he thought Mr. Trump was con­sid­er­ing fir­ing Mr. Mueller. Mr. Ruddy ap­peared on CNN Tues­day morn­ing to walk back his ear­lier state­ments.

“I never said that the pres­i­dent told me, I never said I had a con­ver­sa­tion, I never im­plied — as you know I’ve been on CNN many times, [and] I al­ways speak for my­self and not the pres­i­dent,” Mr. Ruddy said. “He has his own spokesman.”

Mr. Rosen­stein also faced a se­ries of ques­tions Tues­day about the scope of Mr. Ses­sions’ re­cusal from the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion and whether he may have vi­o­lated that by rec­om­mend­ing that for­mer FBI Di­rec­tor James B. Comey be fired.

While the deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral de­clined to dis­cuss the pre­cise mat­ters from which Mr. Ses­sions is and is not re­cused, he noted that de­ci­sions had al­ready been made “about what mat­ters would be ap­pro­pri­ate for the at­tor­ney gen­eral to han­dle” by the time he was of­fi­cially sworn into of­fice.

But he said he was sup­port­ive of the spe­cial coun­sel’s team look­ing into the mat­ter.

“I un­der­stand there are se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions that have been raised. I be­lieve it is up to Di­rec­tor Mueller to de­cide whether this is within the scope of his in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” Mr. Rosen­stein said. “I think Di­rec­tor Mueller should re­view that and de­cide whether it should be in­cluded.”

Ad­dress­ing Sen. Brian Schatz, Hawaii Demo­crat, Mr. Rosen­stein said his of­fice con­trolled the flow of in­for­ma­tion that Mr. Ses­sions re­ceived about mat­ters from which he is re­cused.

“I know what we are in­ves­ti­gat­ing; he does not,” Mr. Rosen­stein said.

Sen. Schatz pressed about whether Mr. Ses­sions might in­stead learn de­tails through the Oval Of­fice.

“We are not brief­ing the Oval Of­fice about our in­ves­ti­ga­tions ei­ther, so I don’t know how they would get there,” Mr. Rosen­stein said. ●

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Deputy At­tor­ney Gen­eral Rod Rosen­stein said he has seen no ev­i­dence of good cause to fire Robert Mueller, the spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor over­see­ing the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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