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White House officials tamp down speculation about firing special counsel Robert Mueller

18 December 2017

An organization that was part of Donald Trump's transition team now claims that a batch of e-mails from the campaign were improperly provided to Robert Mueller during his investigation into possible Russian collusion. The transition team lawyer alleges that Mueller has obtained the the documents illegally. His team has denied rumors that he will fire Mueller.

"As the White House has consistently said for months, there is no consideration of firing the special counsel", Cobb said.

"But he assured us that the Special Counsel's investigation did not recover any emails or other relevant data from that hardware", Langhofer said.

"When we have obtained emails in the course of our ongoing criminal investigation, we have secured either the account owner's consent or appropriate criminal process".

On Saturday, the White House repeated that Trump had no intentions of firing Mueller amid fresh speculation from a congresswoman that he would be doing so.

According to Axios, which broke the story Saturday, the transition emails contain "sensitive exchanges" on topics ranging from policy planning, potential appointments and views on senators who would be involved with confirming political appointees.

Langhofer wrote that Mueller's office "received from the GSA tens of thousands of emails, including a very significant volume of privileged material", according to a copy of the letter published by Politico.

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But in August, while Beckler was in the hospital and incapacitated, Mueller's office and Federal Bureau of Investigation agents approached GSA twice for Trump transition materials, Langhofer said. Officials with Trump for America learned last week that GSA officials had turned over the cache of emails to Mueller's team.

Complicating matters is that Langhofer, the lawyer who sent the letter to the Congressional committee chairs, said in the memo that there was an understanding that TFA was the custodian of the emails.

The letter also makes a specific claim about communication between the government and the campaign - that Richard Beckler, then the general counsel of the GSA, "acknowledged unequivocally to [the Trump campaign's] legal counsel" in a June 15 discussion that the Trump campaign "owned and controlled" emails, and that "any requests for the production of PTT records would therefore be routed to legal counsel for [the Trump campaign]".

"I seriously doubt there is anything here to taint the [Mueller] investigation", said William Jeffress, a white-collar defense attorney who represented Vice President Dick Cheney's senior aide, I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby, during the Valerie Plame CIA leak investigation.

The recent revelations about Mueller's top investigator expressing partisan sentiments against Trump don't help Mueller's case one bit.

Mnuchin's comments come a day after White House special counsel Ty Cobb told CNN in a statement that there are no plans to fire Mueller.

The special counsel's critics have seized upon the case of Peter Strzok, a senior Federal Bureau of Investigation agent whom Mueller removed from his team for sending text messages critical of Trump. "I think it should be over quickly, because I think there's nothing there".

White House officials tamp down speculation about firing special counsel Robert Mueller