A day after President Donald Trump and his inner circle were stunned by an FBI raid in New York which targeted the President’s personal attorney, the White House stood by Mr. Trump’s concerns about the Russia investigation, publicly making the case that the President has the power to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
“The President has been clear that this has gone too far,” Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said of the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, which has drawn repeated criticism from the President.
Asked directly if Mr. Trump believes he has the power to fire Mueller, a former FBI Director appointed by both Presidents Bush and Obama, Sanders made clear that answer was yes.
“I know a number of number of individuals in the legal community and including at the Department of Justice, that he (Trump) has the power to do so,” Sanders said to reporters at the White House.
Earlier in the day, the President had once more made clear his personal displeasure with the Russia probe, denouncing the investigation in a short all-caps tweet.
“A TOTAL WITCH HUNT!!!” the President said, arguing that the raid on shows the “Attorney-client privilege is dead!”
As Mr. Trump expressed frustration over the FBI raid on his personal attorney, lawmakers in Congress were questioning Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg about the operations of the social media giant during the last election for President, and how Russian trolls were able to use Facebook to meddle in the 2016 race for the White House.
“One of my greatest regrets in running the company is that we were slow in identifying the Russian information operations in 2016,” Zuckerberg told Senators.
Later in the hearing, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) pressed Zuckerberg on what type of cooperation the company has been doing with the work of the Russia investigation, and the Special Counsel.
At first, Zuckerberg said that his company had been subpoenaed, but then backed away from that, still saying that Facebook was cooperating with the Mueller probe.
“We provided support to the Trump Campaign, similar to what we provide to any advertiser or campaign who asks for it,” Zuckerberg told Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), who specifically asked if there was any nexus between Facebook, the Trump Campaign, and the data firm Cambridge Analytica.
“Senator, I don’t know that our employees were involved with Cambridge Analytica, although I know that we did help out with the Trump Campaign overall with sales support, as we do with other campaigns,” Zuckerberg said.
Away from the Facebook hearing, Democrats were increasingly worried that the President was getting ready to fire Mueller, and/or possibly Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who hired Mueller to run the Special Counsel probe.
“It is more important than ever that we stand together to protect the rule of law and allow the special counsel to follow the facts wherever they may lead,” said Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH).
After the President on Monday said the FBI raid on his personal lawyer had been an “attack on our country,” Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer rebuked Mr. Trump in a speech on the Senate floor.
“An investigation of your personal attorney is not an attack on our country,” Schumer said. “The Japanese bombing Pearl Harbor was an attack on our country. Nine Eleven was an attack on our country.”
“Mr. President, you are not above the law, and neither is your lawyer,” said Rep. Lacy Clay (D-MO).