Rod Rosenstein, the No. 2 official at the U.S. Justice Department, on Tuesday told Congress the special counsel investigating Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible collusion with the Trump campaign is going to have “the full degree of independence” he needs.
He said it would be fair to put “to rest” rumors of Mueller’s ouster.
“Director Mueller is going to have the full degree of independence that he needs to conduct that investigation appropriately,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein told a Senate appropriations subcommittee, referring to special counsel Robert Mueller.
Rosenstein, who has the sole ability to fire Mueller given that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from matters relating to the investigation, told the panel he had seen no evidence of good cause for letting Mueller go and that he would not follow any theoretical order to fire him absent such evidence.
Allies of President Trump have said he may consider trying to oust Mueller. That would involve ordering Rosenstein to fire him, a move reminiscent of Richard Nixon’s ill-fated effort to scuttle the Watergate investigation.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said she has serious concerns. “It would be catastrophic and … would destroy any shred of trust in the president’s judgment,” she said.