WASHINGTON — A bipartisan group of more than 20 former federal prosecutors has urged President Donald Trump to stand by his recent statements and allow special counsel Robert Mueller to conduct his investigation into Russia’s role in the 2016 election without interference.
When a reporter asked Trump last week if he planned to fire Mueller, the president said he did not, adding that “there was no collusion whatsoever” between his campaign and Russia.
Twenty-two former U.S. attorneys from 18 states and Puerto Rico wrote a letter to Trump on Friday in which they said they were “gratified” to have heard these recent statements about the Mueller investigation.
Ensuring the special counsel can conduct his investigation “free from interference or fear of reprisal” is essential “to the interests of justice and public trust,” they wrote.
“We do not know where Mr. Mueller’s investigation may lead but, from our own experience, we know that Mr. Mueller must be permitted to continue the difficult job with which he has been charged,” the letter reads. “Seeking his removal would have severe repercussions for Americans’ sense of justice here at home and for our reputation for fairness around the world.”
Trump fired FBI Director James Comey in May while he was leading an investigation into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia. The president later admitted he was thinking about the Russia investigation when he decided to dismiss Comey.
Trump’s lawyers looked into Mueller’s potential conflicts of interests and explored the president’s power to grant pardons — to aides, family and himself — as a means of undermining the Justice Department’s investigation, The Washington Post reported in July. Trump also reportedly asked his advisers about the limits of his constitutional powers.
Rumors swirled last week about whether Mueller’s time as special counsel may be limited. His office obtained tens of thousands of transition emails, and a lawyer representing Trump’s transition team accused him of doing so illegally. But a spokesman for Mueller denied any wrongdoing, saying the team had “secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process.”
John Roberts, Fox News’ chief White House correspondent, reported Friday that sources told him Trump’s attorneys have “a very good relationship with Mueller’s office” and that the special prosecutor is not in danger of losing his job.