President Trump sought the ouster of special counsel Robert Mueller in early December but ultimately backed down, the New York Times reported Tuesday.
The president, following reports that special counsel Robert Mueller's office had issued subpoenas for information about his purported business dealings with Deutsche Bank, told advisers that Mueller's probe needed to be shut down, the Times reported, based on interviews with eight unnamed White House officials and people familiar with the situation. Mr. Trump soon backed off on the possibility of firing Mueller after Mueller's office informed the White House the reports were inaccurate, according to the Times. Mr. Trump in the past has said investigating his finances would constitute crossing a red line for him.
The Times also reported Mr. Trump has considered ordering Mueller fired at other points in the last year. The Times previously reported that Mr. Trump directed White House counsel Don McGahn to order Mueller's firing in June, but also backed down.
The latest report comes as Mr. Trump on Monday left open the possibility of firing Mueller after federal investigatorsof Mr. Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen. The White House did not respond to the Times' request for comment.
"I think it's a disgrace what's going on," Mr. Trump told reporters Monday, asked why he doesn't fire Mueller. "We'll see what happens. ... Many people have said you should fire him. Again, they found nothing and in finding nothing, that's a big statement because you know the person who is in charge of the investigation -- you know all about that -- deputy Rod Rosenstein, he wrote the letter very critical of Comey."
"Well, I turned out to do the right thing [firing Comey]," he continued. "If you look at all of the things he's done and the lies and you look at whats going on at the FBI ... turned out I did the right thing. But it turns out he also signed the FISA warrant -- Rod Rosenstein whose in charge also signed the FISA warrant and he also wrote the letter that fired Comey and he was right about that. He was absolutely right about that."