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Deputy AG Rosenstein: No good cause to fire Mueller

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Tuesday said he has not seen good cause to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian election interference.

Rosenstein clarified at a Senate Appropriations Justice, Science and Related Agencies subcommittee hearing that he, and not Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsDems pick up deep-red legislative seat in Missouri Grassley to Sessions: Policy for employees does not comply with the law New immigration policy leaves asylum seekers in the lurch MORE, has the authority to hire and fire Mueller.

“Have you seen good cause for firing Mueller?” Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSenators call for probe into US Olympic Committee, USA Gymnastics after abuse scandal Trump officials take heat for declining Russia sanctions Schumer to Trump administration: Who met with Putin's spy chief? MORE (D-N.H.) asked Rosenstein.

“I have not,” he replied.

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Rosenstein added he is confident Mueller will have sufficient independence in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsMcConnell: 'Whoever gets to 60 wins' on immigration GOP senators turning Trump immigration framework into legislation Longtime Clinton confidant blames Comey for 2016 loss MORE (R-Maine) further pressed him on reports that the administration is considering firing Mueller, asking whether he would if President Trump ordered him to do so.

“I am not going to follow any orders unless I believe those are lawful and appropriate,” Rosenstein said, explaining that under federal regulations, Mueller can only be fired for good cause and that reason would have to be put in writing.

Democrats slammed Sessions on Tuesday for canceling plans to testify at the hearing and sending Rosenstein in his place.

“You are not the witness we were supposed to hear from today,” Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyCoalition of 44 groups calls for passage of drug pricing bill A pro-science approach to Yucca Mountain appropriations Senate Dems: Trump making negotiations 'impossible' MORE (D-Vt.) said. “You are not the witness that was supposed to be behind the table.”