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 SessionsWhite House counsel called Trump 'King Kong' behind his back: report Trump claims he instructed White House counsel to cooperate with Mueller Watergate's John Dean: White House counsel is 'doing right' by cooperating with Mueller MORE, has the authority to hire and fire Mueller.

“Have you seen good cause for firing Mueller?” Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenBusinesses fear blowback from Russia sanctions bill Hillicon Valley: Trump officials deliver show of force on election security | Apple hits trillion | How fake Facebook groups manipulated real activists | Senate group seeks new Russia sanctions Senators introduce bill to slap 'crushing' new sanctions on Russia 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 CollinsWhite House weighs clawing back State, foreign aid funding The Hill's Morning Report: Dems have a majority in the Senate (this week) Overnight Defense: Pompeo creates 'action group' for Iran policy | Trump escalates intel feud | Report pegs military parade cost at M 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 LeahyDemocrats question if Kavanaugh lied about work on terrorism policy Senate returns to work on toughest 'minibus' yet GOP senator: Trump is ‘the only one in the government’ not paying attention to Russian threat to midterms MORE (D-Vt.) said. “You are not the witness that was supposed to be behind the table.”