President Donald Trump considered firing special counsel Robert Mueller last June, but backed down after White House counsel Don McGahn threatened to quit, a person familiar with the matter told CNN.
Since then, Trump and his allies have repeatedly denied that the President had ever considered firing Mueller, who is tasked with investigating Russian interference in the 2016 US elections and any possible collusion with Trump’s campaign. The President has repeatedly denied any collusion.
Here’s a list of eight times since June 2017 that Trump and his team have denied that Mueller’s job is in danger:
August 6, 2017 – White House adviser Kellyanne Conway says on ABC News that Trump has not discussed firing Mueller, but dodges on whether Trump has made a commitment that he won’t fire Mueller in the future.
“The President has not even discussed that. The President is not discussing firing Bob Mueller,” she said when asked whether Trump would commit to not firing the special counsel.
August 8, 2017 – Trump lawyer John Dowd denies that the President has ever considered firing Mueller in a report from USA Today.
“That’s never been on the table, never,” Dowd said, according to USA Today. “It’s a manifestation of the media. My dealings with Bob Mueller have always been cordial, respectful – the way it should be.”
August 10, 2017 – Trump himself tells reporters in Bedminster, New Jersey, that he hasn’t considered firing Mueller.
“I haven’t given it any thought. I mean, I’ve been reading about it from you people. You say, oh, I’m going to dismiss him. No, I’m not dismissing anybody. I mean, I want them to get on with the task. But I also want the Senate and the House to come out with their findings. You know, judging from the people leaving the meetings – leaks – but they leave the meetings all the time, and they say, ‘No, we haven’t found any collusion.’ There’s no – there is no collusion. You know why? Because I don’t speak to Russians.”
October 16, 2017 – Trump says, “No, not at all,” when asked during a news conference if he is considering firing Mueller.
December 16, 2017 – White House Special Counsel Ty Cobb tells CNN “there is no consideration of firing” Mueller.
“As the White House has consistently said for months, there is no consideration of firing the special counsel,” Cobb said in the statement.
December 17, 2017 – Trump himself again says he is not considering firing Mueller.
“No, I’m not,” the President said, but added that his “people” were “very upset” about the special counsel’s decision to obtain tens of thousands of emails from the Trump transition team.
Following his return to the White House from Camp David, Trump told reporters that he thought it was “pretty sad” that the special counsel got hold of the emails, which Trump transition lawyers said Mueller’s team “unlawfully” obtained. The President reiterated that there was no collusion between Russian and his campaign.
December 20, 2017 – Cobb reiterates to CNN that the President is not considering firing Mueller.
“If the media is going to continue to ask for responses to every absurd and baseless rumor, attention-seeking partisans will continue to spread them,” he told CNN. “For five months or more, the White House has persistently and emphatically stated there is no consideration of firing the special counsel, and the White House willingly affirms yet again, as it has every day this week, there is no consideration being given to the termination of the special counsel.”
January 26, 2018 – Following publication of the Mueller report, Trump denied the story once again to reporters in Davos, Switzerland, on Friday, dismissing it as “fake news.”
“Fake news, folks. Fake news,” Trump said before he entered the World Economic Forum. “Typical New York Times,” he added.
UPDATE: This story has been updated to remove a duplicate statement, and its headline has also been updated accordingly.
CNN’s Liz Stark contributed to this report.