Ryan says Trump should let Mueller do his job

It was unclear if there would be any serious consequences from Republican senators were Trump to fire Rosenstein and anyone else who might refuse an order to remove the special counsel.

McConnell told reporters Tuesday that "I have a lot of confidence in Bob Mueller".

President Donald Trump in the Oval Office on April 19.

The president has railed against the Russian Federation investigation, which was taken over by Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller last month, as a "witch hunt".

White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Monday that Ruddy did not speak with Trump about firing Mueller as special counsel and other White House aides suggested the Newsmax CEO was only speaking for himself.

Rosenstein is appearing before the appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Department of Justice's budget because Attorney General Jeff Sessions cancelled his scheduled appearance after agreeing to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday.

"I don't think that's a question for me to answer", Rosenstein responded. "You have my assurance that we are faithfully going to follow that regulation, and Director Mueller is going to have the independence he needs".

A source close to Trump said the president is being counseled to avoid firing the special counsel. US Justice Department regulations outline that a special counsel can be fired by the US attorney general "for cause".

Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich said Tuesday on ABC's "Good Morning America" that while he feels "independent counsels are very risky", he doesn't think Trump should force Mueller out. "I think it's pretty clear by what one of his lawyers said on television recently".

"And the reason for that is, that if it is within the scope of Director Mueller's investigation - and I've been a prosecutor for 27 years - we don't want people talking publicly about the subjects of ongoing investigation", he continued.

Because Sessions had recused himself from the Russia investigation over his connection to Trump's campaign and his undisclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador, it was Rosenstein's decision to appoint a special counsel to lead the investigation.

But Ruddy on Tuesday opened a new line of questions about Mueller's impartiality - the fact that Trump had considered Mueller for the Federal Bureau of Investigation director's job before he was named special counsel.

Some of Mr Trump's allies have begun questioning Mr Mueller's credibility as the investigation intensifies.

Ruddy said in an interview Monday with Judy Woodruff of PBS, "I think he's weighing that option". Look who he is hiring.check fec reports.

Just weeks ago, Mr Gingrich had heaped praise on Mr Mueller, hailing him as a "superb choice" for special counsel whose reputation was "impeccable for honesty and integrity".

Some have compared Trump's firing of then-FBI Director James Comey in May to the storied "Saturday Night massacre" that occurred during Richard Nixon's presidency. Rosenstein appointed Mueller to oversee the Russian Federation investigation on May 18. The person spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations.