White House: Trump has ‘no intention’ to fire Mueller

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President Trump does not plan to fire special counsel Robert Mueller in response to charges brought against three former Trump campaign aides, the White House said on Monday.

“There is no intention or plan to make any changes in regards to the special counsel,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters.

Sanders also said there have been no conversations at the White House about potential pardons for those charged.

“I think we should let the process play through before we start looking at that,” she said.

Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and Manafort’s business associate, Rick Gates, have been charged on 12 counts, including illegal foreign lobbying, tax evasion and bank fraud.

Separately, former foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos pleaded guilty earlier this month to lying to federal investigators about conversations he had with a Russian professor about thousands of emails purportedly containing “dirt” about Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton. Papadopoulos was first charged in July.

The charges stemmed from special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and have provoked speculation that Trump may fire Mueller.

The White House, however, sought to separate itself from those charged on Monday.

Sanders said Trump had not spoken to Manafort since the inauguration and noted that the indictment against him does not mention the president or his campaign. She also cast Papadopoulos as a low-level volunteer.

“This individual was the member of a volunteer counsel that met one time over the course of a year,” she said. “He was part of a list that was read out in The Washington Post. … He was not paid by the campaign. He was a volunteer on a counsel that met once.”

This report was updated at 2:02 p.m.

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