Donald Trump’s administration is reportedly examining the possibility of using an obscure ethics rule to undermine the investigation into ties between the President’s campaign team and Russia.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s has hired former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to lead the investigation which Mr Trump has claimed “hurts” the United States.
Mr Trump’s administration is apparently reviewing the Code of Federal Regulations, which restricts newly hired government lawyers from investigating their prior law firm’s clients for one year after their hiring, two White House sources told the Reuters news agency.
Mr Mueller’s former firm, WilmerHale, represents Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner and the president’s former campaign manager Paul Manafort.
Legal experts said the ethics rule can be waived by the Justice Department, which appointed Mueller, as he did not represent Mr Kushner or Mr Manafort directly.
But the White House will still consider using it rule to create doubt about Mr Mueller’s ability to do the role fairly, the sources said.
The Justice Department is already reviewing Mueller’s background as well as any potential conflicts of interest, department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said.
The news comes amid reports that Mr Trump told Russian officials during an Oval Office meeting that firing former FBI Director James Comey eased pressure caused by an investigation into Russia’s influence in the 2016 campaign.
“I just fired the head of the FBI He was crazy, a real nut job,” Mr Trump told Russian ambassador Sergey Lavrov and the country’s ambassador to the US, Sergei Kislak, The New York Timesreported.
“I faced great pressure because of Russia. That’s taken off.”