MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) — President Donald Trump is dismissing a new report that says he ordered the firing of special counsel Robert Mueller seven months ago.
Sources tell the New York Times the President claimed three conflicts of interest disqualified Mueller from leading the investigation of Russian election meddling.
The report, confirmed by the Washington Post, says Chief White House lawyer Donald McGahn refused to order the Justice Department to fire Mueller, and the President then changed his mind.
“Fake news, folks. Fake news,” Trump said when questioned about the revelation as he entered the World Economic Forum in Davos.
“Typical New York Times,” he added.
The timing at issue last summer was just a month after Trump fired former FBI Director James Comey in May. Later that month, Mueller was appointed by the Department of Justice to manage the special counsel investigation into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
The New York Times was first to report that Trump called for Mueller’s departure in June 2017.
In June, The Washington Post reported that Mueller’s investigation was broadening to include looking into a potential obstruction of justice case.
White House lawyer Ty Cobb declined to comment on the President’s actions to CNN, citing “respect for the Office of the Special Counsel and its process.”
Two people told the Times that Trump expressed concern over three possible conflicts of interest, including a dispute Mueller had involving Trump National Golf Club, the law firm Mueller previously had worked at and the fact that Mueller had recently been interviewed to head the FBI.
The Times said the discussion over Mueller’s potential conflicts of interest in June 2017 arose following reports that Mueller was looking into a possible obstruction of justice case.
Mueller is currently investigating any possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 US election. Trump has repeatedly denied any collusion between his campaign and Russia.
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