Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein declined to say who asked him to write the letter recommending the firing of FBI Director James Comey, saying it could fall within the scope of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.
Rosenstein offered his assurances as USA news accounts quoted Republican allies of Trump suggesting that the president is considering firing Mueller, whose appointment last month drew widespread praise from both Republicans and opposition Democrats.
"I said that the President was indeed considering that". "He had a private conversation with the President on his views about all sorts of matters, potentially about the investigation, I don't know". Rosenstein would be the one to fire Mueller, which he repeatedly assured senators Tuesday he would not consider without "good cause". 'I think he's weighing that option.
"He actually does not know what we're investigating and I'm not going to talk about it publicly", he said.
The Trump confidant told TheDC that this wording from Ruddy is clearly an attempt to convince the president that firing Mueller would be a poor decision. Ruddy, who met with undisclosed officials at the White House on Monday, also said his own sources indicated Trump was considering having Mueller removed.
"The chain of command for the special counsel is only directly to the attorney general - and in this case, the acting attorney general", he said.
"I think the best thing to do is to let Robert Mueller do his job".
"Director Mueller is going to have the full degree of independence that he needs to conduct that investigation appropriately", Rosenstein said.
The president is reportedly angry about stories about close ties between Mueller and former Federal Bureau of Investigation director James Comey.
House Speaker Paul Ryan told reporters that any talk about Mr Trump wanting to rid himself of the special investigator amounts to rumour.
"It's a mistake to pretend that this is going to be some neutral investigation", Gingrich said.
Chris Ruddy, a friend of Trump's and the chief executive of Newsmax, a United States news outlet, went so far as to suggest the president was already thinking about "terminating" Mueller.
"Does Trump think Mueller needs this paycheck to meet a vehicle payment or something?"
Tuesday morning, Trump supporter Ari Fleischer, who served as President George W. Bush's press secretary, again highlighted the issue of Mueller's probe being handled by attorneys who have donated mostly to Democrats, a message that Donald Trump Jr. quickly retweeted to his own 1.7 million followers.
"Chris Ruddy speaks for himself", Spicer said.
"No, I have not", he said.
Under questioning from Van Hollen, Rosenstein also testified that removing the special counsel in order to prevent the investigation-as Trump himself implied he did in the firing of Comey-would also not constitute good cause.
Trump later said he was thinking about "this Russia thing" as he chose to dismiss him because he considered claims that Russian interference in the election influenced it in his favor to be bogus, an excuse by Democrats to account for his stunning upset of Clinton.