Mnuchin: No reason to think Trump will fire Mueller

Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinTop economic adviser warned Trump on reelection chances ahead of China truce: report The Hill's Morning Report - Tempers boil over at the White House Schumer seeks focus on health care amid impeachment fever MORE on Sunday said he has no reason to believe President TrumpDonald John TrumpFlorida GOP lawmaker says he's 'thinking' about impeachment Democrats introduce 'THUG Act' to block funding for G-7 at Trump resort Kurdish group PKK pens open letter rebuking Trump's comparison to ISIS MORE intends to fire special counsel Robert Mueller amid the ongoing investigation into Russia's election interference.

"I don't have any reason to think that the president is going to do that, but that's obviously up to him," Mnuchin told host Jake Tapper on CNN's "State of the Union," adding that the topic did not arise when he dined with Trump and Vice President Pence on Saturday night.

The finance chief argued, however, that the ongoing probe is "a giant distraction" that needs to wrap up "quickly."  

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"I haven't heard anything about this, any firing, but we have got to get past this investigation. It's a giant distraction. Nobody has said that in any way this impacted the outcome of the election," Mnuchin said.

The remarks about Mueller's fate at the Justice Department come after rumors intensified last week that Trump planned to fire the special counsel, who is leading the federal probe investigating whether Trump campaign aides colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.

Democratic Rep. Jackie Speier (Calif.), a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said Friday in an interview that "rumors" circulating around Capitol Hill suggest Trump is considering firing Mueller before Christmas, once Congress breaks for its winter recess.

A White House lawyer handling Trump's response to Mueller's investigation, however, denied the murmurs.

Earlier this month, Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn pleaded guilty to lying to federal agents about his Russian contacts, the latest in a series of former Trump campaign aides Mueller has brought charges against.

Fox News and conservatives have also stepped up their attacks against Mueller in recent weeks.

Recently, Trump defenders have seized on reports that Mueller removed FBI agent Peter Strzok from his team after an investigation revealed that the veteran agent sent anti-Trump text messages during the 2016 campaign. They argue that Strzok is proof Mueller's team is politically biased. 

Despite the critical attacks, Mueller continues to receive widespread bipartisan support from lawmakers who say his investigation should be able to run its course.