By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — The New York Times is reporting that U.S. President Donald Trump ordered Special Counsel Robert Mueller to be fired in June but reversed the decision after the White House counsel threatened to resign.
The Times report published on January 25 cited four unnamed people close to the matter.
The newspaper said there was no immediate responses to requests for comment from the White House.
The Times reported that after Trump ordered Mueller fired, White House counsel Donald McGahn said he would quit rather than follow through on the order.
U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. presidential election in favor of Trump and to hurt the chances of Democratic rival Hillary Clinton.
Mueller and three congressional panels are separately investigating the alleged meddling and any potential ties between the Trump campaign and the Russians.
Trump denies there was any collusion, and Moscow has denied it interfered in the U.S. election process.
Much speculation has grown around whether Trump will attempt to fire Mueller as his investigation proceeds. Trump has at times called the probe a “witch hunt” and reports of Russian collusion “a hoax.”
The Times report said Trump had argued in June that Mueller had three conflicts of interest that disqualified him from conducting the probe.
Amid the conflicts Trump claimed, the paper reported, was a dispute years ago over fees at Trump National Golf Club in Virginia that had led Mueller to resign his membership.