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Andrew Harnik / AP

President Trump's friend, Newsmax CEO Christopher Ruddy, started a media storm Monday evening when he told PBS's Judy Woodruff that Trump was "considering perhaps terminating the special counsel" Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the Russia investigation.

"I think he's weighing that option," Ruddy said.

Between the lines: Ruddy never actually spoke to Trump about firing Mueller, a source close to Ruddy tells me, but was reading between the lines of what others had said. Indeed, Ruddy referred to comments from Jay Sekulow, one of Trump's lawyers, who didn't rule out that Trump might fire Mueller in an appearance Sunday on ABC's "This Week."

Sean Spicer confirmed Trump hadn't discussed the matter with Ruddy: "Mr. Ruddy never spoke to the President regarding this issue. With respect to this subject, only the President or his attorneys are authorized to comment."

Our thought bubble: One can never predict with certainty what Trump will do — and he's known to buck against conventional wisdom — but ordering the firing of Mueller really does seem unlikely. The near-universal advice Trump will be getting from his White House team — and from legal advisors close to the administration — will be that it's a catastrophic idea to get rid of Mueller. One frequent informal advisor to the White House told me on Monday night that he can't see Trump doing it. "There has to be a limit to his impulsiveness," the advisor told me. "And there are some cooler heads like McGahn [the White House Counsel] who weigh in."

How the brushfire started:

  1. On Sunday, ABC's George Stephanopoulos asked Sekulow whether Trump would promise not to interfere in the investigation or order the firing of Mueller. Sekulow, who is expected to be the face of Trump's legal defense on TV, wouldn't rule it out. "Look, the President of the United States, as we all know, is a unitary executive," he said. "But the President is going to seek the advice of his counsel and inside the government as well as outside. And I'm not going to speculate on what he will, or will not, do."
  2. On Monday morning, Newt Gingrich attacked Mueller on Twitter: "Republicans are delusional if they think the special counsel is going to be fair. Look who he is hiring. Check FEC reports. Time to rethink." Three weeks earlier, Gingrich praised Mueller as a "superb choice" due to his "impeccable" reputation "for honesty and integrity."
  3. Later on Monday, other Trump allies like the conservative author Ann Coulter picked up on the theme. "Sessions never should've recused himself," she tweeted. "Now that we know TRUMP IS NOT UNDER INVESTIGATION, Sessions should take it back & fire Mueller."
  4. Ruddy took the storm to the next level by saying he thought Trump was weighing whether to fire Mueller.

Go deeper

World leaders react to "new dawn in America" under Biden administration

President Biden reacts delivers his inaugural address on the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

World leaders have pledged to work with President Biden on issues including the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change, with many praising his move to begin the formal process for the U.S. to rejoin the Paris Climate Agreement.

The big picture: Several leaders noted the swift shift from former President Trump's "America First" policy to Biden's action to re-engage with the world and rebuild alliances.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

In photos: The Biden and Harris inauguration

President Biden and first lady Jill Biden watch a fireworks show on the National Mall from the Truman Balcony at the White House on Wednesday night. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

President Biden signed his first executive orders into law from the Oval Office on Wednesday evening after walking in a brief inaugural parade to the White House with first lady Jill Biden and members of their family. He was inaugurated with Vice President Kamala Harris at the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday morning.

Why it matters: Many of Biden's day one actions immediately reverse key Trump administration policies, including rejoining the Paris Agreement and the World Health Organization, launching a racial equity initiative and reversing the Muslim travel ban.

Republicans pledge to set aside differences and work with Biden

President Biden speaks to Sen. Mitch McConnell after being sworn in at the West Front of the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday. Photo: Erin Schaff-Pool/Getty Images

Several Republicans praised President Biden's calls for unity during his inaugural address on Wednesday and pledged to work together for the benefit of the American people.

Why it matters: The Democrats only have a slim majority in the Senate and Biden will likely need to work with the GOP to pass his legislative agenda.