Jun 13, 2017

Deputy AG: We have no reason to fire special Russia counsel

Alex Brandon / AP

Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein told senators Tuesday that Special Counsel Robert Mueller has "full independence" to investigate the ongoing Russia probe, although he can be fired at any time.

Rosenstein said there was "no basis" for firing Mueller, and he would only dismiss him if there was "good cause" — even if Trump ordered him to do so. Rosenstein later confirmed he is the only person who could fire Mueller, but noted there was "no secret plan" to remove him, or at least, "no secret plan that involves me."

The quote: "I appointed him. I stand by that decision... I am going to defend the integrity of that investigation."

Live updates from the hearing:

  • If you were fired, who would appoint your replacement? "The president," said Rosenstein. He later clarified that he could be fired "without cause" at any time, essentially confirming that there is a higher bar to fire the special prosecutor than the deputy attorney general.
  • Why are you answering the panel's questions instead of Sessions? Rosenstein said he knows what is going on in the Russia investigation, whereas Sessions, who has been recused from the probe, does not. "Nothing gets to the attorney general about the matters he's recused from unless they come through my office."
  • Was it appropriate for Sessions to recommend James Comey's firing given his recusal? Rosenstein said he wouldn't comment.
  • Do you have a time estimate for the Russia investigation? "I regret that I do not," said Rosenstein, but said he understands it needs to be done "expeditiously."

Go deeper

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If you feel like you're suddenly spending a surprising amount of your days thinking and talking about Anthony Fauci, you're not alone. He's become the third-most talked about person online, according to data from NewsWhip provided to Axios.

Why it matters: Fauci, the director of the National Institutes of Health office that deals with infectious diseases, has quickly become a household name, and one of the few household names with (mostly) bipartisan credibility.

The push to multiply limited medical supplies

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Health care workers and the federal government are scrambling to stretch limited supplies of medical equipment.

Why it matters: We can’t manufacture enough medical masks or ventilators in time to meet the enormous surge in demand that's expected to hit in mid-April. The next-best thing is trying to make what we have last as long as possible.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 1,014,673 — Total deaths: 52,973 — Total recoveries: 210,335Map.
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  4. Jobs latest: Coronavirus unemployment numbers are like a natural disaster hitting every state.
  5. Public health latest: Anthony Fauci called for all states across the U.S. to issue stay-at-home orders. The FDA will allow blood donations from gay men after 3-month waiting period, citing "urgent need."
  6. Business latest: Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said oil companies are eligible for aid from new lending programs the Federal Reserve is setting up, but not direct loans from his department.
  7. U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt: Navy removes captain of aircraft carrier who sounded alarm about coronavirus.
  8. 1 future thing: In developing countries, consequences of COVID-19 could be deeper and far more difficult to recover from.
  9. What should I do? Answers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingQ&A: Minimizing your coronavirus risk.
  10. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it.

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