WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump says he’s not considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller, but added that his “people” are “very upset” about the counsel’s decision to obtain tens of thousands of emails from the Trump transition team.
Asked Sunday night if he was considering firing Mueller, Trump said, “No, I’m not.”
Following his return to the White House from Camp David, Trump told reporters that he thought it was “pretty sad” that the special counsel got a hold of the emails, which Trump transition lawyers said Mueller’s team “unlawfully” obtained. The President also reiterated that there was no collusion between Russian and his campaign.
“I can’t imagine there’s anything on (the emails), frankly, because as we said, there’s no collusion. No collusion whatsoever,” Trump said. “But a lot of lawyers thought that was pretty sad.”
Lawyers representing the Trump transition wrote to members of Congress accusing Mueller’s team of obtaining unauthorized access to tens of thousands of transition emails in the course of its Russia investigation, including what they claim to be documents protected by attorney-client privilege.
A spokesman for Mueller has denied the accusations that its access to the emails was unauthorized.
“When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process,” special counsel spokesman Peter Carr said early Sunday.
The Special Counsel’s Office, which is investigating allegations of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, has faced increased scrutiny in recent weeks, with reports about potential political bias within Mueller’s team and reports of potential conflicts of interest within the Department of Justice.
California Rep. Jackie Speier and other Democratic lawmakers have expressed concerns in recent days that Trump would fire Mueller, prompting some discussion about the issue on Sunday morning talk shows.
“I believe that the President wants all of this shut down,” Speier speculated during an appearance Friday on KQED in California. “He wants to shut down these investigations and he wants to fire special counsel Mueller.”
Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, tweeted his own concerns Friday, saying, “I’m increasingly worried Republicans will shut down the House Intelligence Committee investigation at the end of the month.”
However, Trump, his lawyers, his Cabinet, and White House staff all say Mueller isn’t on the chopping block.
On Saturday, Ty Cobb told CNN in a statement that there are no plans to fire Mueller.
“As the White House has consistently said for months, there is no consideration of firing the special counsel,” Cobb said.