President Donald Trump may consider firing Robert Mueller, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation.
"He's weighing that option," said Chris Ruddy, Newsmax CEO and friend of Trump on PBS NewsHour Monday evening. "I personally think it would be a very significant mistake – even though I don't think there's a justification ... for a special counsel in this case," Ruddy said.
Ruddy was seen leaving the West Wing on Monday, but it was not immediately clear whether the subject of Mueller came up during his visit.
In the interview with PBS, Ruddy called out what he described as "conflicts" surrounding Mueller's law firm, WilmerHale, which has represented Trump's former campaign manager and members of the Trump family. Ruddy also said Trump had interviewed Mueller for the role of FBI director before Mueller was named special counsel in charge of the Russia investigation.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in an email to Business Insider Monday night: "Mr. Ruddy never spoke to the President regarding this issue. With respect to this subject, only the President or his attorneys are authorized to comment."
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In the last 36 hours, people in Trump's orbit have floated conflicting narratives on the matter. A lawyer for Trump said on ABC News Sunday that he is "not going to speculate" about whether Trump may fire Mueller. But Trump's conservative allies have begun to turn on the special counsel, despite initially praising his appointment.
Trump's allies now claim the results Mueller comes up with in the investigation into whether Trump campaign associates colluded with Russian officials during the 2016 election will be tainted and biased, Business Insider's Allan Smith reported earlier Tuesday, due in part to former FBI Director James Comey's Senate testimony last week.
At his hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday, Comey said that he gave a friend, a Columbia law professor, permission to share with news outlets Comey's memos documenting private meetings he had with Trump.
Comey testified that he believed the revelations in his memos — including concern that Trump sought to influence the FBI's Russia investigation — would prompt the appointment of a special counsel.
While Trump as president would be within his right to fire Mueller, that potential move is largely seen as problematic for a president already plagued by suggestions he has overstepped his boundaries in his interactions with Comey.
Rep. Adam Schiff, ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee attempted to knock down any suggestion of Trump firing Mueller.
"If President fired Bob Mueller, Congress would immediately re-establish independent counsel and appoint Bob Mueller. Don't waste our time," Schiff said. It is unclear, however, exactly how the Republican-led Congress would react to Mueller's firing, if it were to happen.
Richard Painter, who served as top White House ethics lawyer under George W. Bush, offered an unvarnished take on the rumblings Monday night.
"Rumors going around that POTUS wants to fire Mueller," he said. "That had better be fake news or this presidency will be over very soon."