It would be a "very, very bad idea" for the Trump administration to remove former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel investigating Russian interference in the presidential election, Sen. Angus King said Tuesday.
"First, the mechanics are important," said the Maine Independent senator, who caucuses with Democrats. "The president cannot fire Bob Mueller. He must request that the acting attorney general do so, and the acting attorney general has to use his discretion whether to take that action."
Speculation about Mueller's future leading the investigation gained steam Monday night after Newsmax CEO Chris Ruddy said in a PBS interview that President Donald Trump is considering firing Mueller.
Several complaints have been made about the former FBI director from others close to Trump, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who on Tuesday told ABC's George Stephanopoulos that Mueller has hired several Democrats for his investigation and that he does not think he can remain unbiased.
King argued that the Trump administration keeps saying it wants to get the Russia investigation over with and put it behind them, but has itself stoodin the way to keep that from happening.
The best way to make that happen would be for Trump to make sure his administration cooperates and lets the investigation "take its course."
"If there's nothing there, as the president keeps asserting, then why do you keep impeding it?" King told the Today show of Trump. "I just think, if we want to get it over with, let's follow through and get this thing done."
He also downplayed complaints that Mueller and fired FBI Director James Comey are too closely connected for an investigation to be fair.
"Everybody in Washington respects Bob Mueller," King said. "He's a career professional, a former head of the FBI, a really outstanding individual. It would be hard to argue that somehow he suddenly looks like he's biased. Of course he knows Jim Comey because he was the former director before Jim Comey."
King, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, moved on to discuss Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his Tuesday afternoon testimony before the group.
"I think there are two main questions," King said. "What contacts, if any, did he have with the Russians before the election when he was a campaign surrogate? What role, if any, did he have with the firing of James Comey."
However, King said it would be be a bad precedent if Trump follows through with his offer to present testimony.
"It would be bad for the country in the long run," King said. "The best thing, rather than to testify under oath, would be to tell people to talk freely and don't invoke executive privilege."
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