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Photo: NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP / Getty Images

President Trump ordered the firing of Special Counsel Robert Mueller last June, reversing course after White House Counsel Don McGahn threatened to resign, the NY Times' Michael Schmidt and Maggie Haberman report.

Why it matters: "The West Wing confrontation marks the first time Mr. Trump is known to have tried to fire the special counsel. Mr. Mueller learned about the episode in recent months as his investigators interviewed current and former senior White House officials in his inquiry into whether the president obstructed justice," per the Times.

Trump's justification for ordering him fired
  • Trump cited a "dispute years ago over fees at Trump National golf club."
  • The fact that he was working at the same law firm that "previously represented the president's son-in-law, Jared Kushner."
  • The fact that Mueller had interviewed to be FBI director shortly before being appointed special counsel.
Two big things
  • McGahn told senior officials that firing Mueller would be "catastrophic" for Trump's presidency and raise questions about obstruction of justice, per the Times.
  • "Another option that Mr. Trump considered in discussions with his advisers was dismissing the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, and elevating the department’s No. 3 official, Rachel Brand, to oversee Mr. Mueller. "
Mini timeline
  • May 9: Trump fires Comey
  • May 17: Rosenstein appoints Mueller special counsel
  • June: Trump orders Mueller fired

Worth noting: The Washington Post reported on June 14 that Mueller was investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice.

Ty Cobb, Trump's White House lawyer, declined to comment for the Times' story.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - World

Hong Kong pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai detained for fraud

An activist holds a placard highlighting China's Tiananmen Square massacre as pro-democracy media tycoon Jimmy Lai arrives at West Kowloon Magistrates' Court in Hong Kong in November. Photo: Isaac Wong/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Hong Kong media tycoon Jimmy Lai is being detained until an April court hearing after the pro-democracy supporter was charged Thursday with fraud, per his Apple Daily news outlet.

Why it matters: The 72-year-old's arrest and denial of bail is another blow for the pro-democracy movement in the former British colony amid concerns about a fresh crackdown on activists.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Inhofe loudly sets Trump straight on defense bill

Sen. Jim Inhofe speaks with reporters in the Capitol last month. Photo: Samuel Corum/Getty Images

Senator Jim Inhofe told President Trump today he'll likely fail to get two big wishes in pending defense spending legislation, bellowing into his cellphone: "This is the only chance to get our bill passed," a source who overheard part of their conversation tells Axios.

Why it matters: Republicans are ready to test whether Trump's threats of vetoing the bill, which has passed every year for more than half a century, are empty.

Conspiracy theories blow back on Trump's White House

Sidney Powell. Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images

President Trump has rarely met a conspiracy theory he doesn't like, but he and other Republicans now worry the wild tales told by lawyers Sidney Powell and Lin Wood may cost them in Georgia's Senate special elections.

Why it matters: The two are telling Georgians not to vote for Republicans David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler because of a bizarre, baseless and potentially self-defeating theory: It's not worth voting because the Chinese Communist Party has rigged the voting machines.