Last June, President Trump ordered the firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, but backed off after White House Counsel Don McGahn refused to ask for Mueller's dismissal and threatened to quit, four people with knowledge of the matter told The New York Times.
Mueller is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and whether Trump obstructed justice, and he learned about Trump's directive while interviewing current and former senior White House officials in recent months. McGahn, who also served as the Trump campaign's top attorney, told White House officials that if Mueller was fired, it would have a catastrophic effect on the presidency and would make people wonder if Trump was obstructing the investigation, the Times reports.
Trump told advisers and White House officials that he believed Mueller had three conflicts of interest that made him unqualified to serve as special counsel, the Times reports. Strike one was Mueller resigning his membership from the Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, following a dispute over fees. Trump also took issue with Mueller working for the law firm that once represented his son-in-law Jared Kushner and Mueller being interviewed to return as FBI director one day before he was appointed special counsel. Trump's attorney, Ty Cobb, declined to comment to the Times. Read more about Trump's thoughts on Mueller, and his unsuccessful plan to dismiss Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, at The New York Times.