Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein on Tuesday said he has not seen good cause to fire Robert Mueller, the special counsel investigating Russian election interference.
Rosenstein clarified at a Senate Appropriations Justice, Science and Related Agencies subcommittee hearing that he, and not Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has the authority to hire and fire Mueller.
“Have you seen good cause for firing Mueller?” Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) asked Rosenstein.
“I have not,” he replied.
Rosenstein added he is confident Mueller will have sufficient independence in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) further pressed him on reports that the administration is considering firing Mueller, asking whether he would if President Trump ordered him to do so.
“I am not going to follow any orders unless I believe those are lawful and appropriate,” Rosenstein said, explaining that under federal regulations, Mueller can only be fired for good cause and that reason would have to be put in writing.
Democrats slammed Sessions on Tuesday for canceling plans to testify at the hearing and sending Rosenstein in his place.
“You are not the witness we were supposed to hear from today,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said. “You are not the witness that was supposed to be behind the table.”