By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) - President Donald Trump attempted to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller last June, but backed off after his White House lawyer threatened to quit, according to a report published Thursday.
The White House did not respond to requests for comment following the New York Times story.
Mueller reportedly learned about the incident recently as he presses forward in his investigation of Russia's alleged attempts to interfere in the 2016 election, and the Trump campaign's possible collusion with the effort to undercut Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
After Trump requested White House counsel Donald F. McGahn II to ask the Justice Department to fire Mueller, McGahn instead threatened to resign from his post, the Times reported, citing four anonymous sources, it said are knowledgeable of the matter.
McGahn reportedly disagreed with the president's reasoning for firing Mueller, which included Trump's claims of a fee dispute Mueller allegedly had at a Trump-owned golf course, Mueller's work for a law firm that represented Trump's son-in-law Jared Kushner, and Mueller's interview to return to the FBI, where he was previously director.
The White House Counsel told a senior official that if Mueller was fired, the fallout would be disastrous for the Trump presidency, according to the Times.
“We decline to comment out of respect for the Office of the Special Counsel and its process,” Ty Cobb, the president's lawyer for the special counsel probe, told the newspaper.
Earlier this week, Trump said he is "looking forward" to speaking to Mueller's investigation, again claiming "there's been no collusion whatsoever".
"I'm looking forward to it," Trump said, adding that his testimony would be "subject to my lawyers" and that he is open to speaking under oath.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who played a prominent role in the Trump campaign, was questioned for hours by the special counsel last week.
Sessions previously recused himself from the ongoing investigation, angering Trump who has reportedly fumed in private meetings with Sessions about the decision.