STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Frustrated by Russia investigation, Trump turns ire toward Rosenstein

Months after his reported effort to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, President Donald Trump is still fuming over ...

Posted: Jan 27, 2018 5:34 PM
Updated: Jan 27, 2018 5:34 PM

Months after his reported effort to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, President Donald Trump is still fuming over the Russia investigation and has Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein in his crosshairs.

The President has been venting about Rosenstein -- who oversees Mueller and the special counsel investigation -- in recent weeks, according to four sources familiar with the situation. At times, Trump even gripes about wanting Rosenstein removed, two of those sources said. One source said the President makes comments like "let's fire him, let's get rid of him" before his advisers convince him it's an ill-fated idea.

Trump's first year in office has been marked by his preoccupation with an investigation he has dubbed a "witch hunt" and his reported efforts to bring it to a swift conclusion.

After Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation, Trump took the dramatic step of firing FBI Director James Comey -- but only after asking him for a pledge of loyalty and to back off the FBI investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, according to Comey.

The move led to the appointment of a special counsel in May 2017, a development that continues to infuriate the President. While Trump often directed that anger at Sessions, by June he turned his ire to Mueller and wanted the special counsel fired, a source confirmed to CNN after it was first reported in The New York Times. White House counsel Don McGahn refused to order the Justice Department to fire Mueller, the source said, because he disagreed with the President's reasoning.

Trump appeared in good spirits Friday morning as he prepared to deliver remarks in Davos, a source who spent time with Trump behind the scenes said. There was no sign that he was perturbed by reports about his move to fire Mueller, this person said, and Trump didn't bring up the topic.

But ever since a special counsel was named, the President's frustrations have continued to simmer. Trump has come to view Rosenstein as one-in-the-same as Mueller -- another government official who is out to get the President, one source said.

Sources described Trump's frustration with Rosenstein as largely bluster.

"When this comes up -- everyone says, 'That's the death march. That's not going to accomplish anything,'" said one source familiar with the situation.

Asked for comment, White House special counsel Ty Cobb said in a statement, "We do not find it to be a coincidence that there is an onslaught of false stories circulating in what appears to be a coordinated effort to distract and deflect from new revelations about already reported bias and corruption. We continue to cooperate with the Special counsel and out of respect for that process will not weigh in further."

The Department of Justice declined to comment.

Mueller's office has zeroed in on decisions that seemed to dominate so much of the President's thinking in his first year in office: the firings of Flynn and Comey, as well as any pressure he may have exerted on Sessions.

The President's motives in these situations aren't always entirely transparent.

One source said that, back in June, the President and his attorneys had multiple discussions about whether they should make an issue of Mueller's conflicts. The source disputed that Trump had ordered Mueller to be fired.

In explaining his urge to fire Mueller, The Times, citing two people, said the President said there was a conflict of interest based on Mueller's dispute with one of his golf clubs over fees, the fact that Mueller worked at the same law firm that was representing Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, and that Mueller interviewed for the FBI director position the day before he was named special counsel. A source tells CNN another reason Trump wanted to fire Mueller was his perception that Mueller was close friends with Comey. The two men are professional acquaintances.

As for McGahn, he was already prone to becoming frustrated with the President and had threatened to quit over different issues, including Trump's choice of lawyers to defend the President and White House, according to a source familiar with the situation. But the pressure in June to fire Mueller caused McGahn to tell others he would resign, and this time he packed up some of his belongings in boxes, according to two people familiar with the matter.

Before the news broke Thursday, those who have worked closely with McGahn in recent weeks said they believe he's committed to staying at the White House. But his fate could depend on how Trump reacts upon his return to Washington.

Next week, the special counsel's team is set to question former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon about the Flynn and Comey firings, people familiar with the investigation said.

It was a topic that several White House officials have been asked about. The questions "covered the waterfront" ranging from the campaign, connections to Russians, and the meeting at Trump's Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club where the decision to fire Comey was made, one person familiar with one witness' testimony said.

"They're really digging into the Comey obstruction piece," this person said.

Sources familiar with the matter told CNN that Mueller had provided Trump's lawyers with possible interview topics including Trump allegedly asking Comey to drop an investigation into Flynn and Trump's outreach to leaders of the intelligence community about the Russia investigation.

The new information about Trump's desire to fire Mueller -- which the President deemed "fake news" on Friday -- puts his team on a collision course with the special counsel as the two are in talks about the President being interviewed.

Trump told reporters Wednesday he was "looking forward" to an interview with Mueller and would do it under oath. "There has been no collusion whatsoever. There's no obstruction whatsoever," he said. He mockingly told reporters, "You fight back, oh, it's obstruction."

White House lawyers quickly walked that back with one attorney, Cobb, saying the President "spoke hurriedly and intended only to say that he was willing to meet."

John Dowd, the President's personal lawyer, struck a stronger note Thursday, saying, "I will make the decision on whether the President talks to the special counsel. I have not made any decision yet."

It's unclear how the latest revelations will play out politically and legally. If Trump's legal team decides to not agree to an interview, Mueller's team could subpoena his testimony before a grand jury, which could set up a court battle.

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 150664

Reported Deaths: 4008
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion24697784
Lake13220352
St. Joseph8877159
Elkhart8469132
Allen7880222
Hamilton5962113
Vanderburgh559360
Tippecanoe354714
Monroe320738
Hendricks3183130
Johnson2995128
Porter297848
Clark285461
Delaware282074
Vigo252637
Madison229593
Cass222021
LaPorte215557
Warrick188464
Kosciusko176823
Floyd174867
Howard158866
Bartholomew139758
Dubois135125
Marshall132526
Henry122628
Grant120939
Wayne119327
Boone118848
Hancock114145
Noble113533
Jackson108713
Morgan92240
Dearborn91628
Daviess84033
Gibson83411
Clinton81616
Shelby79429
Lawrence78534
LaGrange76715
Harrison74024
Putnam71016
Knox70310
DeKalb69411
Posey6796
Steuben6008
Fayette58517
Miami5845
Montgomery57222
White56815
Jasper5624
Greene51837
Scott50813
Decatur49839
Adams4725
Clay4346
Whitley4316
Sullivan42812
Ripley4228
Wells4155
Starke3937
Wabash3919
Orange38725
Huntington3785
Spencer3706
Franklin36525
Jennings36013
Washington3592
Randolph3398
Fulton3362
Jefferson3305
Pike31913
Carroll31413
Perry29514
Jay2876
Fountain2863
Tipton26823
Parke2203
Newton21811
Vermillion2181
Rush2044
Owen2021
Martin1950
Blackford1923
Crawford1491
Pulaski1471
Brown1303
Ohio1227
Benton1070
Union1040
Switzerland890
Warren751
Unassigned0233

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 185639

Reported Deaths: 5083
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin30978635
Cuyahoga19436675
Hamilton16234338
Montgomery10083186
Lucas8175370
Butler8028123
Summit6555261
Warren406360
Stark3696178
Mahoning3635283
Marion335149
Pickaway296946
Delaware281127
Lorain266689
Fairfield257856
Licking248865
Wood244681
Clark242454
Clermont234937
Trumbull2221134
Greene219640
Columbiana210187
Allen203873
Miami195656
Lake188357
Medina180242
Portage156167
Mercer147128
Ross133833
Wayne131568
Richland128624
Tuscarawas123622
Athens11742
Erie113853
Darke110151
Madison103514
Hancock103023
Auglaize95116
Putnam91527
Lawrence90725
Shelby86814
Muskingum8434
Geauga83650
Scioto8059
Belmont78427
Union7343
Ashtabula72148
Huron69910
Sandusky69422
Preble59517
Seneca58514
Holmes57010
Ottawa56830
Fulton5056
Jefferson4564
Henry45317
Defiance44413
Jackson4417
Clinton43613
Fayette4328
Crawford4308
Highland4024
Logan4023
Champaign3873
Ashland3735
Brown3683
Knox36215
Perry35411
Washington33323
Morrow3312
Hardin32113
Williams3194
Coshocton29812
Pike2880
Guernsey2878
Wyandot28413
Gallia27913
Van Wert2333
Meigs21012
Adams2036
Carroll1917
Paulding1901
Hocking1899
Monroe15218
Noble1210
Vinton903
Harrison793
Morgan740
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Few Clouds
57° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 57°
Angola
Broken Clouds
55° wxIcon
Hi: 57° Lo: 45°
Feels Like: 55°
Huntington
Broken Clouds
55° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 55°
Decatur
Broken Clouds
55° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 55°
Van Wert
Broken Clouds
55° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 55°
Morning Rain Wednesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events