White House: Trump hasn't fired Mueller in part because of how the press would react

Story highlights

  • Trump and his top aides have routinely slammed the probe
  • "Look, we want to see this come to a complete and full conclusion," Sanders said

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump hasn't fired special counsel Robert Mueller partly because of how the press would react to the dismissal, the White House said Tuesday.

Trump and his top aides have routinely slammed the probe as nothing more than a witch hunt or a hoax, leading some to question why he hasn't fired Mueller in the first place. But the White House appears keenly aware that any attempt to get rid of Mueller could create a massive public relations headache that could envelop the administration.
"Look, we want to see this come to a complete and full conclusion," said White House press secretary Sarah Sanders. "I think we all know what everybody in this room would do if the President did that, and I don't think that is helpful to the process."
    She added that Trump "wants to see this end and he wants to see them finally come to the same conclusion that I think most everyone in America has that there is nothing to this."
    Sanders then turned on the media, saying that reporters have spent "the better part of a year looking, digging, obsessing over trying to find something and have yet to find anything."
    Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign during the 2016 election has hung over the White House ever since Mueller was named in May. The Washington Post reported Tuesday that Mueller is looking to interview Trump about his dismissals of former FBI Director James Comey and his former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
    "Frankly, this administration, we have said it time and time before, there was no collusion," Sanders said. "There is nothing to it. We are ready to move on. Clearly the American people are. And my guess (is) some of you are tired of talking about it as well and hopefully we will get to that point soon and we can do that."
    Sanders would not say whether Trump would submit to an interview with Mueller but pledged to "be fully cooperative with the special counsel."
    It is unclear whether Trump has the authority to directly fire Mueller. Because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from all matters related to the 2016 campaign, the power to fire Mueller falls to Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
    But Rosenstein has said that he has seen no "good cause to fire Mueller," so in order to fire the special counsel he would likely have to fire a series of Justice Department officials until he found someone willing to get rid of Mueller.