Mueller was named the special counsel the next day
He previously held the post of FBI chief
President Donald Trump interviewed Robert Mueller as a potential replacement for fired FBI Director James Comey the day before the former FBI director was named special counsel, a White House official said Tuesday.
The official, who would not detail what the two discussed during the interview, said it took place on May 16.
If Mueller knew he was going to be named special counsel, it is unlikely he divulged that information to Trump. CNN has reported at the time that the White House was given only a brief heads up that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was naming Mueller to oversee Russian interference in the 2016 election and potential collusion from Trump’s campaign associates.
Conservative media, led by Newsmax CEO and Trump friend Chris Ruddy, have suggested that the interview shows Mueller has a conflict in his special counsel investigation.
“The President did talk with him in the days before he was named special counsel,” Ruddy told PBS on Monday in the same interview where he said Trump was “considering terminating” Mueller as special counsel. “I think there’s a conflict there.”
Ruddy told CNN on Tuesday that Mueller and Trump “had a private conversation” and suggested it was “unethical” before the former FBI director was named special counsel.
“He had a private conversation with the President on his views about all sorts of matters potentially about the investigation,” Ruddy said. “And the next day he’s now maybe using some of that information in his investigation.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that Ruddy did not speak with Trump about firing Mueller as special counsel and other White House aides suggested the Newsmax CEO was only speaking for himself.