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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit MORE attempted to fire special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions Trump: Democrats just want Mueller to testify for a 'do-over' Graham: Mueller investigation a 'political rectal exam' 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 KushnerTrump pushing for GOP donor's company to get border wall contract: report Trump family members will join state visit to UK Top Palestinian negotiator: Trump wants our surrender 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 RosensteinJake Tapper fact-checks poster Trump admin created describing Mueller investigation Jeffrey Rosen officially sworn in as deputy attorney general Democrats talk subpoena for Mueller 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 WarnerTrump declassification move unnerves Democrats Hillicon Valley: Assange hit with 17 more charges | Facebook removes record 2.2B fake profiles | Senate passes anti-robocall bill | Senators offer bill to help companies remove Huawei equipment Senators offer bipartisan bill to help US firms remove Huawei equipment from networks 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.