Aides for Donald Trump think the president “shot himself in the foot” by firing James Comey and ultimately triggering the appointment of special counsel Robert Mueller, the Daily Beast reports.
As the Washington Post reported Wednesday, that special counsel investigation has since expanded to include whether Trump committed obstruction of justice by ousting the former FBI director.
Close associates of Trump, including longtime confidante and Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy, have floated the theory that the president is considering firing Mueller, who was appointed by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to oversee the investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. According to the New York Times, Trump “thinks the possibility of being fired will focus [Mueller] on delivering what the president desires most: a blank public exoneration.”
“Whoever leaked [news of the obstruction investigation] was obviously reading that he was thinking about giving Mueller the boot,” an official told the Daily Beast. That official argued Trump “shot himself in the foot again with this cockamamie scheme to get Mueller to play ball.”
Another White House official told the Daily Beast it would “suicide” for Trump to get rid of the special counsel.
“I’d be insincere if I said it wasn’t a concern that the president would try to do it anyway,” the aide added.
Former United States attorney Barbara McQuade, who served under the Barack Obama administration, told the Daily Beast if Trump fired Mueller “and it could be shown that his purpose was to impede the investigation, it could be additional evidence of obstruction of justice.”
“We could then have a repeat of the Saturday Night Massacre or the Sally Yates Massacre,” she said.
Administration officials are reportedly trying to contain the fallout from the Washington Post’s report that the investigation has expanded to include possible obstruction of justice.
“Keep him away from Twitter, dear God, keep him away from Twitter,” one official told the Daily Beast.
“The president did this to himself,” that official added.