Donald Trump is 'considering terminating Russia special counsel Robert Mueller'

Robert Mueller is investigating possible collusion between Donald Trump's 2016 campaign team and Russia - AP
Robert Mueller is investigating possible collusion between Donald Trump's 2016 campaign team and Russia - AP

Donald Trump is considering "terminating" Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating possible collusion between Mr Trump's 2016 campaign team and Russia, a friend of the president has said.

The former FBI director was appointed to the role last month with a remit to look at possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election, and "related matters".

"I think he's considering perhaps terminating the special counsel. I think he's weighing that option," Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy told "PBS NewsHour".

Chris Ruddy to @JudyWoodruff: President Trump is considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller, who he considered for another position.

— PBS NewsHour (@NewsHour) June 12, 2017

The White House did not immediately respond to questions about Mr Ruddy's claims.

Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, responded angrily to the report.

“If President [Trump] fired Bob Mueller, Congress would immediately re-establish independent counsel and appoint Bob Mueller,” Mr Schiff tweeted on Monday evening. “Don't waste our time.”

Mr Schiff told MSNBC he guessed "this is part of the effort to tear down Robert Mueller".

“You can’t exclude the possibility [of Mueller’s dismissal], but I think it’s just a way of raising doubts about this man who's well respected on both sides of the aisle.”

Mr Ruddy's comments came after a slew of Republican attacks on Mr Mueller over the weekend. 

Newt Gingrich, one of the president's most prominent supporters, wrote on Twitter: “Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair. Look who he is hiring. Check fec reports. Time to rethink.”

Conservative pundit Ann Coulter said Attorney General Jeff Sessions'  “never should’ve recused himself” from the Russia investigation.

“Now that we know TRUMP IS NOT UNDER INVESTIGATION, Sessions should take it back & fire Mueller,” she added.

Mr Sessions recused himself from the Russia investigation in March after it emerged he twice talked with Russia’s ambassador to Washington during the campaign.

Under current Justice Department regulations, such a firing would consequently have to be done by Mr Sessions' deputy, Rod Rosenstein, not the president - though those regulations could theoretically be set aside.

Mr Sessions offered to resign because of tensions with Mr Trump over his decision to recuse himself, according to reports last week. 

The attorney general will likely face tough questions at the open Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Tuesday over his dealings with Russian officials during the campaign and whether he had a role in the firing of former FBI Director James Comey.