Deputy AG Rosenstein: No good cause to fire Mueller

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Tuesday said he has not seen good cause to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian election interference.

Rosenstein clarified at a Senate Appropriations Justice, Science and Related Agencies subcommittee hearing that he, and not Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsLisa Page sues DOJ, FBI over alleged privacy violations Sessions leads GOP Senate primary field in Alabama, internal poll shows Trump rebukes FBI chief Wray over inspector general's Russia inquiry MORE, has the authority to hire and fire Mueller.

“Have you seen good cause for firing Mueller?” Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenOvernight Defense: Trump leaves door open to possible troop increase in Middle East | Putin offers immediate extension of key nuclear treaty Putin offers immediate extension of key nuclear treaty Biden reveals four women he could pick as his running mate MORE (D-N.H.) asked Rosenstein.

“I have not,” he replied.

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Rosenstein added he is confident Mueller will have sufficient independence in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia.

Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsRepublicans consider skipping witnesses in Trump impeachment trial Group of veterans call on lawmakers to support impeachment, 'put country over politics' Defense bill includes fix for military families' survivor benefits MORE (R-Maine) further pressed him on reports that the administration is considering firing Mueller, asking whether he would if President Trump ordered him to do so.

“I am not going to follow any orders unless I believe those are lawful and appropriate,” Rosenstein said, explaining that under federal regulations, Mueller can only be fired for good cause and that reason would have to be put in writing.

Democrats slammed Sessions on Tuesday for canceling plans to testify at the hearing and sending Rosenstein in his place.

“You are not the witness we were supposed to hear from today,” Sen. Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyPelosi gets standing ovation at Kennedy Center Honors Trump brings pardoned soldiers on stage at Florida fundraiser: report ICE emerges as stumbling block in government funding talks MORE (D-Vt.) said. “You are not the witness that was supposed to be behind the table.”