Can the President legally fire special counsel Robert Mueller?

Factcheck.org, A Project of The Annenberg Public Policy Center asked the question, “Can President Donald Trump fire special counsel Robert Mueller?”

Contrary to popular belief, President Trump does not have the direct legal authority to fire Robert Mueller. Factcheck.org’s short answer states, “Not directly. Only the deputy attorney general who appointed Mueller can fire him and only for cause. But Trump could fire the DAG, or order the special-counsel regulations repealed and fire Mueller himself.”

The person who would have the authority to fire Mueller should be AG Jeff Sessions, but once he recused himself, the power was given to the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Factcheck.org reports,

“Rosenstein cited federal regulations issued by the attorney general in 1999, 28 C.F.R. § 600.4-600.10. The rules were drafted in the wake of the Kenneth Starr investigation of President Bill Clinton.

According to those regulations, a special counsel “may be disciplined or removed from office only by the personal action of the Attorney General” (or in this case, the acting attorney general). And Rosenstein can’t just do it on a whim, either. According to the regulation, special counsel can only be removed “for misconduct, dereliction of duty, incapacity, conflict of interest, or for other good cause, including violation of Departmental policies.”

In a Senate hearing on June 13, Rosenstein said he alone exercises firing authority, and that he had not seen any evidence of good cause for firing Mueller.

“It’s certainly theoretically possible that the attorney general could fire him, but that’s the only person who has authority to fire him,” Rosenstein said. “And in fact, the chain of command for the special counsel is only directly to the attorney general, in this case the acting attorney general.”

In a House hearing that same day, Rosenstein again said that the decision to fire Mueller was his, and that he would not be swayed even if Trump ordered him to fire Mueller.

“I have a federal regulation and I’m going to faithfully enforce that regulation,” Rosenstein said. “The regulation provides that a special counsel may be removed only for good cause and so it doesn’t matter who gives me an order, what that order is, if there isn’t good cause, I would not fire the special counsel.”

In other words, Rosenstein argues that Trump could not fire Mueller directly. He could call on Rosenstein to do so, but if Rosenstein concluded there was no “good cause” to fire Mueller, he could refuse.”

To see Robert Farley’s full answer on Factcheck.org, click here. Let us know your opinion by commenting on Facebook post.

Can President Trump fire special counsel Robert Mueller? The answer may surprise you. #KUSINewsWhat do you think about Mueller's investigation?

Posted by KUSI News on Tuesday, March 20, 2018

 

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