Dem senator: It's likely that Trump will fire Mueller

Sen. Christopher Coons (D-Del.) said on Friday that he believes that President Trump is likely to fire special counsel Robert Mueller, saying that the recent ousters of top administration officials make such a move all the more probable.

"I think the president's abrupt recent actions in how he dismissed the [Veterans Affairs] secretary, the secretary of State, other key members of his Cabinet suggest that this is something he is likely to do," Coons said.

Coons said that many lawmakers believe that it would be "dreadful" if Trump fired Mueller, who is carrying out the law enforcement investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

But many of those same lawmakers do not think that Trump would actually go through with it, Coons said. He challenged that notion by pointing to the recent spate of dismissals among the top ranks of the Trump administration.

Trump has moved in recent weeks to shake up his Cabinet. The series of firings began earlier this month with the abrupt dismissal of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. That was followed by the resignation of national security adviser H.R. McMaster last week.

And on Wednesday, Trump announced that he had fired Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin and tapped White House physician Ronny Jackson to replace him.

Trump has publicly and privately bristled at Mueller's investigation, which he has called a "witch hunt" intended to undermine his presidency. Those complaints have long fed speculation that he could try to fire the special counsel.

The New York Times reported in January that Trump had once tried to have Mueller fired shortly after the special counsel's appointment last year. The president reportedly backed off from that demand after White House counsel Don McGahn threatened to resign.

Some lawmakers have called for Congress to pass legislation that would curb the president's ability to do away with Mueller. One proposal, introduced by Coons and Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), would require that Mueller be informed in writing of the specific reason for his firing and that he be given the ability to appeal such a decision.