Republican lawmakers have been increasingly frustrated by revelations that one of the FBI agents who had a pivotal role in both the early stages of what became the Mueller investigation and the bureau’s decision to excuse Hillary Clinton shared anti-Trump sentiments with his mistress, also an FBI employee.
Earlier this week, Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley fired off a letter to the DOJ asking Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein to explain this and other disturbing revelations indicating bias toward Trump from within both the DOJ and the Mueller probe specifically. To wit, nearly every Mueller team member donated to at least one of Hillary Clinton’s campaigns. Furthermore, Mueller’s right-hand man Aaron Zebley represented the IT staffer who installed Clinton’s illegal server.
These frustrations came to a head earlier this week when Trey Gowdy (R-SC) and Rosenstein engaged in a testy exchange during the latter’s public testimony before the House Judiciary Committee.
Given the mounting pressure on Mueller, it’s perhaps unsurprising that Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) said Friday that the rumor on Capitol Hill is that President Donald Trump is planning to fire Mueller before Christmas, but after Congress leaves Washington for the winter recess.
“The rumor on the Hill when I left yesterday was that the president was going to make a significant speech at the end of next week. And on Dec. 22, when we are out of D.C., he was going to fire Robert Mueller," Speier told California's KQED News.
According to the Hill, Speier, a member of the House Intelligence Committee, said that Trump was trying to shut down the committee's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. As evidence, she pointed to the lack of interviews scheduled for the new year.
The New York Times reported Friday that the committee is scheduling its final witnesses of the year to testify in New York despite important votes coming up in Washington, DC, and confirmed no additional witnesses are scheduled yet in 2018.
"We can read between the lines I think," Speier said. "I believe this president wants all of this shut down. He wants to shut down these investigations, and he wants to fire special counsel Mueller."
The ranking Democrat on the committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (Calif.), also said Friday that he is worried that Republicans leading the committee are seeking to shut down the committee's investigation by the end of the year.
"Republicans have scheduled no witnesses after next Friday and none in 2017 [sic]. We have dozens of outstanding witnesses on key aspects of our investigation that they refuse to contact and many document requests they continue to sit on," he tweeted Friday.
Of course, there’s also reason to take Speier’s comments with a grain of salt: Rumors that Trump might fire Mueller have been circulating since May.
"There is no intention or plan to make any changes in regards to the special counsel," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in October.