WASHINGTON ― Senators from both parties are concerned enough about President Donald Trump firing the special counsel investigating his campaign’s ties to Russia that they introduced bills to prevent it. But Kellyanne Conway, a counselor to the president, dismissed the idea on Sunday that Trump would oust Robert Mueller ― without ruling it out entirely.
“Why are we engaging in hypotheticals?” Conway said on ABC’s “This Week.” “The entire Russia investigation is a hypothetical. The president has called it a fiction, a total fabrication to excuse the colossal and unexpected, unwanted defeat of Hillary Clinton. People just can’t get over that election.”
Pressed on the issue further, Conway said Trump had “not even discussed” firing Mueller and was cooperating with the investigation.
Mueller was appointed in May to oversee the probe into Russia’s attempts to interfere with the 2016 election, including whether the Trump campaign colluded with the country. Since then, concerns have grown that Trump would force out Mueller.
A Trump friend said in June that he was considering doing so, and the president admitted he fired former FBI Director James Comey in part based on his dissatisfaction with the investigation. The president also has said he believes it would cross an improper line for Mueller to look into Trump family finances, which he is reportedly doing.
Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion with Russia occurred, calling it “fake news.”
Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who is pushing one of the bills, said Sunday on “Fox News Sunday” that the legislation is aimed at preventing Trump from firing Mueller. “There’s no question that it is,” he said.
On ABC’s “This Week,” Tillis said that the legislation should not indicate that lawmakers believe Trump is moving toward dismissing Mueller.
“Our effort here is just to take that off the table, any sort of precipitous removal, but we don’t have any specific evidence to suggest that the president is going to do that,” he said. “This is policy that lives beyond this administration incidentally, and it’s important policy, I think, going forward.”
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), who co-authored the bill and appeared with Tillis on “This Week,” said Congress should look into hiring Mueller if Trump fires him.
“I think if the president should fire Robert Mueller abruptly, that would be crossing a big line,” Coons said. “And I think you would see strong bipartisan action from the Senate, which might include our reinstating him or our rehiring him to continue to conduct that investigation on behalf of Congress.”
Conway’s dismissal of the firing speculation echoes Trump’s attorney Jay Sekulow, who told Fox News on Thursday that “the president is not thinking about firing Bob Mueller, so the speculation that’s out there is just incorrect.”