Donald Trump reportedly tried to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller in an attempt to end the Russia investigation, and the bombshell report has impeachment speculation sharply on the rise.
Late on Thursday, the New York Times reported that the president had tried last year to fire the man leading the investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. The report claimed that president backed down when the White House counsel threatened to resign rather than carrying through with Trump’s demand.
As the report noted, Trump tried to claim that Mueller had a conflict of interest because the former FBI director had a dispute over fees at the Trump National Golf Club, leading Mueller to resign his membership. Trump also claimed that Mueller’s law firm had represented Jared Kushner and that Mueller was a candidate for the FBI director opening after Trump fired James Comey — both of which Trump believed represented conflicts of interest.
The move may have been an attempt to end the Russia investigation, but it was reportedly stopped by Trump’s own team. White House counsel Donald McGahn was able to sway Trump away from firing Comey, saying it would be devastating to Trump’s presidency.
The report comes as Mueller’s investigation is reportedly ramping up and taking an increasing focus on whether Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice in his alleged efforts to sink the investigation. A report last week from the New York Times noted that Mueller had already questioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions for several hours last week, the first of Trump’s cabinet members to testify before the Russia investigation
Later, NBC News‘ Carol Lee reported that Mueller also interviewed CIA Director Mike Pompeo and other leaders of the intelligence community, asking if Trump had requested them to take efforts to end the Russia investigation. That led to reports that Trump himself is in the crosshairs, with Mueller’s team requesting an interview with the president.
The revelations has brought increasing speculation that Donald Trump could be impeached as a result of the investigation, with more Congressional Democrats openly raising the possibility of impeachment.
But Donald Trump’s impeachment could still be a ways off, even if Mueller’s investigation does find that he likely obstructed justice. It would take a majority of Congress to move forward on impeachment articles, which itself would take a significant number of Republicans to turn on the president. There has not yet been any sign that there is such a movement against Trump, though that could change quickly if the Democrats retake control of the House in the 2018 midterm elections.
The White House refused to comment on the report that Donald Trump tried to fire Robert Mueller.