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Trump Friend Says President Weighing Firing Counsel Probing Russia Ties

U.S. Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller (file photo)
U.S. Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller (file photo)

A close associate of U.S. President Donald Trump has said Trump is considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller, who the Justice Department appointed last month to investigate Russian ties with Trump's campaign.

"I think he's considering perhaps terminating the special counsel. I think he's weighing that option," Christopher Ruddy, chief executive of Newsmax Media and a friend of Trump, told PBS NewsHour on June 12.

"I think it's pretty clear by what one of his lawyers said on television recently," Ruddy said, apparently referring to Trump attorney Marc Kasowitz's statement that Trump was "vindicated" by the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey last week, in which Comey said Trump did not personally collude with Russia.

While Ruddy added that "I personally think it would be a very significant mistake" to fire Mueller, he said that "Comey's testimony once again proved that there was no obstruction" of the Russia investigations.

Ruddy also said Mueller was under consideration for FBI director before he was appointed special counsel, posing a "conflict" that Trump could cite.

"There's some real conflicts," Ruddy told PBS. "He comes from a law firm that represents members of the Trump family."

White House spokesman Sean Spicer later said that Ruddy "never spoke to the president regarding this issue."

"With respect to this subject, only the president or his attorneys are authorized to comment," Spicer added.

Based on reporting by AP, AFP, and PBS