DAVOS, Switzerland – US President Donald Trump challenged on Friday the multiple media reports that said he attempted to fire the special counsel overseeing the investigation into his campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia and subsequent obstruction of justice.
Upon his arrival at the Swiss alpine resort of Davos, which hosts the World Economic Forum summit of global leaders, Trump described the bombshell story, first broken by the New York Times, that he had ordered the removal of Robert Mueller in June as false.
“Fake news, folks. Fake news. Typical New York Times. Fake story,” Trump said when confronted by journalists as he arrived at the Davos Congress Center, where he was set to deliver a speech later in the day.
According to the Times’ article, which used four people familiar with the investigation as attribution, Trump ordered the firing of Mueller a short time after the latter was appointed to probe the alleged collusion between the president’s campaign and Russian officials in the 2016 election, which US intelligence agencies say was marred by Russia’s interference.
He only rescinded his order once White House Counsel Donald McGahn, who was charged with firing Mueller, threatened to resign over what he considered a catastrophic move.
Other outlets, such as the Washington Post and CNN, independently corroborated the Times’ scoop with their own unnamed sources.
Democratic Party officials were quick to respond, with Senator Mark Warner of Virginia – the ranking Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is conducting its own probe into Russian electoral meddling – releasing a statement in which he called Trump’s alleged action a red line that cannot be crossed.
“Any attempt to remove the Special Counsel, pardon key witnesses, or otherwise interfere in the investigation, would be a gross abuse of power, and all members of Congress, from both parties, have a responsibility to our Constitution and to our country to make that clear immediately,” Warner said.