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 SessionsTrump labels Schiff ‘little Adam Schitt’ Top House Oversight Dem says he will do ‘anything and everything’ to make Mueller’s findings public Watchdog group demands release of Whitaker's financial disclosures MORE, has the authority to hire and fire Mueller.

“Have you seen good cause for firing Mueller?” Sen. Jeanne ShaheenCynthia (Jeanne) Jeanne ShaheenSunday shows preview: New members preview agendas after Democratic House takeover The Hill's 12:30 Report — Sponsored by Delta Air Lines — White House to 'temporarily reinstate' Acosta's press pass after judge issues order | Graham to take over Judiciary panel | Hand recount for Florida Senate race Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Border deployment 'peaked' at 5,800 troops | Trump sanctions 17 Saudis over Khashoggi killing | Senators offer bill to press Trump on Saudis | Paul effort to block Bahrain arms sale fails 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 CollinsMcConnell, Flake clash over protecting Mueller probe Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Border deployment 'peaked' at 5,800 troops | Trump sanctions 17 Saudis over Khashoggi killing | Senators offer bill to press Trump on Saudis | Paul effort to block Bahrain arms sale fails Senators introduce bill to respond to Khashoggi killing 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 LeahyTrump set to have close ally Graham in powerful chairmanship Senators introduce Trump-backed criminal justice bill Dem senators want hearing on funding for detained migrant children MORE (D-Vt.) said. “You are not the witness that was supposed to be behind the table.”