It’s been a trying time lately for the president and the members of his inner circle. On Monday, the FBI raided the office of Donald Trump’s personal lawyer Michael Cohen, reported to have been looking for, among other items, records about payments to two women who allegedly had affairs with the president. One of those payments was $130,000 in hush money to Stephanie Clifford, the transfer of which was facilitated by Cohen himself.
The issues at play here are distinct from the main Russia investigation, which is currently being led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller — although the raid was reportedly conducted thanks to a referral from Mueller. Reported issues here include possible campaign finance law violations and bank fraud on Cohen’s part.
Although the raid was distinct from Mueller’s inquiry, the president did not hesitate to go after Mueller when given the chance.
Asked late Monday about the possibility he would move to fire Mueller, something he’s been reported to try to do in the past, Trump commented:
‘We’ll see what happens.’
Sarah Huckabee Sanders was pressed about the same possibility during the Tuesday White House press conference, and rather than choosing to shoot down the possibility of the president firing Mueller some time soon, she chose to assert that the president believes he has the authority to dismiss the special counsel.
Faced with the question:
‘Does Trump believe he has the power to fire Robert Mueller as special counsel?’
‘He certainly believes he has the power to do so.’
The fast paced nature of the press conference early Tuesday did not give Sanders the opportunity to fully flesh out this answer, but it represents a noteworthy break from past norms of addressing the subject on the part of the White House, as The Washington Post notes.
To be clear, though, going forward, the president does not necessarily have the personal authority to fire Mueller. He would likely have to get Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein — or someone with whom Trump replaced Rosenstein as leader of the Russia investigation — to do the deed.
Check out video of the Tuesday press conference below.
Featured Image via Screenshot from the Video