President Donald Trump considered firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller in December 2017 after the publication of news stories that turned out to be inaccurate.
Trump told advisers to fire Mueller following reports the special counsel’s office subpoenaed his bank records from Deutsche Bank, according to The New York Times. Trump believed the subpoenas crossed a “red line” he had set for the Mueller probe, which initially began as an investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian government.
Trump ordered Mueller’s firing at least one other time. Trump demanded White House counsel Don McGahn fire Mueller in June 2017 because the president believed the special counsel’s prosecutors and investigators were politically biased, The Times previously reported. But Trump backed down after McGahn threatened to resign.
The stories about the Deutsche Bank subpoenas, which appeared in The Wall Street Journal, Reuters and Bloomberg on Dec. 5, turned out to be inaccurate. The outlets issued a correction noting the subpoenas were for bank records of Trump associates.
As The Times reports:
In the hours that followed Mr. Trump’s initial anger over the Deutsche Bank reports, his lawyers and advisers worked quickly to learn about the subpoenas and ultimately were told by Mr. Mueller’s office that the reports were not accurate, leading the president to back down.
The new report about the attempt to fire Mueller is surfacing as the president is fuming over the FBI raid on the office and home of Michael Cohen, the longtime Trump attorney. Agents seized documents related to payments Cohen made to two women who claim to have been paid hush money to cover up affairs with Trump.
Mueller referred the matter to the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing Mueller’s investigation, signed off on the search warrant.
“It’s a disgrace,” Trump told reporters when responding to news of the raid.
“We’ll see what happens,” Trump added when asked whether he plans to fire Mueller.
“I think it’s disgraceful and so does a lot of other people. This is a pure and simple witch-hunt.”
Trump is considering firing Rosenstein, CNN reported separately on Monday.