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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

Biden explains justification for Syria strike in letter to Congress

Photo: Chris Kleponis/CNP/Bloomberg via Getty Images

President Biden told congressional leadership in a letter Saturday that this week's airstrike against facilities tied to Iranian-backed militia groups in Syria was consistent with the U.S. right to self-defense.

Why it matters: Some Democrats, including Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), have criticized the Biden administration for the strike and demanded a briefing.

2 hours ago - Health

FDA authorizes Johnson & Johnson's one-shot COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Pavlo Gonchar/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration on Saturday issued an emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson's one-shot coronavirus vaccine.

Why it matters: The authorization of a third coronavirus vaccine in the U.S. will help speed up the vaccine rollout across the country, especially since the J&J shot only requires one dose as opposed to Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech's two-shot vaccines.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios