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Trump ordered Mueller's firing last year but was stopped by WH counsel: report

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump to fundraise for 3 Republicans running for open seats: report Trump to nominate former Monsanto exec to top Interior position White House aides hadn’t heard of Trump's new tax cut: report MORE attempted to fire special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE last summer but was stopped after White House counsel Don McGahn threatened to resign, according to a new report.

The New York Times reports Trump ordered Mueller to be fired in June, according to four people with knowledge of the matter.

Trump reportedly said Mueller had conflicts of interest in his investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 election, including a dispute over fees at Trump’s National Golf Club in Virginia and Mueller’s previous employment at a law firm that represent Trump’s son-in-law Jared KushnerJared Corey KushnerCongress raises pressure on Saudi Arabia On The Money: Trump to seek new round of tax cuts after midterms | Mnuchin meets with Saudi crown prince | Trump threatens to cut foreign aid over caravan Kushner on working at the White House: I 'wouldn’t say' it’s 'fun' MORE, according to the Times.

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However, McGahn reportedly refused the president's order and threatened to quit, believing that Trump's order would further stir speculation that the president was obstructing justice in the Russia investigation. 

Another option considered by the president involved removing Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod Jay RosensteinConservatives fume over format of upcoming Rosenstein interview Papadopoulos set to testify before House lawmakers Rod Rosenstein has no conflict MORE, the Justice Department's second-highest official, and appointing Associate Attorney General Rachel Brand to oversee Mueller's team of prosecutors. This option also never materialized.
 
According to the Times, Trump's lawyer Ty Cobb and others in the White House have for months attempted to calm Trump on matters involving Mueller by insisting the investigation is almost over.
 
Cobb, who is handling the White House's response to the Mueller probe, declined to comment to the Times.
 
“We decline to comment out of respect for the Office of the Special Counsel and its process,” Cobb said.
 
Mueller recently found out about Trump’s attempt to have him fired, according to the Times, as his team has begun interviewing top current and former Trump officials.
 
The Times's bombshell report comes just a day after Trump said he would be willing to interview with Mueller. 
 
Trump told reporters at the White House on Wednesday that he is "looking forward" to the opportunity to sit down with Mueller, insisting that he has done nothing wrong.

"There’s been no collusion whatsoever. There’s no obstruction whatsoever, and I’m looking forward to it," Trump said.

The president also acknowledged at the time that whether he speaks to investigators would depend on the advice of his lawyers. 

“You know, again, it’s ... subject to my lawyers and all of that — but I would love to do it,” he said.

Democratic lawmakers seized on the report Thursday night that Trump attempted to fire Mueller, warning against any attempts to obstruct justice.

“I’ve said it before, and I am saying it again: firing the Special Counsel is a red line that the President cannot cross," Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerDems can use subpoena power to reclaim the mantle of populism Is there a difference between good and bad online election targeting? Collusion judgment looms for key Senate panel MORE (D-Va.), vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said in a statement responding to the Times report.

"Any attempt to remove the Special Counsel, pardon key witnesses, or otherwise interfere in the investigation, would be a gross abuse of power, and all members of Congress, from both parties, have a responsibility to our Constitution and to our country to make that clear immediately," he said.

Updated: 9:26 p.m.