WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump said Sunday that he is not considering firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller as pushback grows against his office’s probe into potential collusion between the Russian government and the Trump campaign.
“No, I’m not,” Trump told reporters when asked if he was weighing Mueller’s termination. “What, are you surprised?”
While Trump has offered a denial, Mueller faced criticism Sunday from Kory Langhofer, a lawyer who worked for Trump for America (TFA), Trump’s transition team.
In a letter to Congress, Langhofer claimed that Mueller’s team inappropriately obtained their emails from the Government Services Administration, including information that Langhofer said was privileged.
“Although the Special Counsel’s Office was aware that the GSA did not own or control the records in question, the Special Counsel’s Office has extensively used the materials in question, including portions that are susceptible to claims of privilege, and without notifying TFA or taking customary precautions to protect TFA’s rights and privileges,” Langhofer said.
The GSA provided the transition team with government email accounts used after Trump was elected and before he took office.
When Trump was asked about the emails on Sunday, he said that “it’s not looking good.”
“It’s quite sad to see that. My people were very upset about it,” Trump said. “I can’t imagine there’s anything on them, frankly, because as we’ve said there’s no collusion.”
But a spokesperson for Mueller denied that the emails were collected illegally.
“When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner’s consent or appropriate criminal process,” the spokesperson, Peter Carr, told media outlets over the weekend.
The email flap comes shortly after the Justice Department revealed that Peter Strzok, a senior FBI official, was removed from Mueller’s team for sending texts critical of Trump during the 2016 campaign.
While FBI agents are allowed to hold political opinions, concerns over the messages have added fuel to claims from some Republicans that Mueller’s probe is tainted by partisanship.