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U.S. President Donald Trump is pushing back against a New York Times report that said he had late last year considered firing special counsel Robert Mueller, who is heading the criminal investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
“If I wanted to fire Robert Mueller in December, as reported by the Failing New York Times, I would have fired him,” Trump said on Twitter. “Just more Fake News from a biased newspaper!” “
Trump has regularly vented his ire at Mueller’s nearly year-long probe, especially this week after Federal Bureau of Investigation agents raided the New York office and residence of Trump’s personal attorney, Michael Cohen. Agents were searching for financial records and documents related to hefty hush payments shortly before the election to two women who claimed to have had affairs with Trump in 2006 to keep them quiet. Trump has denied the purported liaisons.
In addition, the investigators were looking for documents about any conversations Cohen might have had with Trump regarding a 2005 Access Hollywood tape in which he bragged about being able to grope women at will because at the time he was the star of a television reality show. The tape surfaced a month ahead of the November 2016 election, briefly hurting the Trump campaign before he apologized.
Numerous U.S. news outlets say Trump is considering firing Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing Mueller’s probe and signed off on the FBI seizure of Cohen’s files.
Trump’s latest complaint about the investigation and media coverage of it came as The New Yorker magazine reported that American Media, Inc., the publisher of a Trump-supportive tabloid, the National Enquirer, paid $30,000 in late 2015 to a doorman at one of Trump’s New York buildings for exclusive rights to the doorman’s claim that Trump had fathered an out-of-wedlock child in the 1980s. American Media, whose chairman is a Trump friend, killed the story and the doorman, under terms of the payment to him, was required to keep quiet about the claim.
The New Yorker said it had uncovered no evidence the claim about the child was true, but noted that it was third known payment to people ahead of the election to suppress embarrassing stories about Trump’s past from surfacing before voters headed to the polls.
Cohen paid adult film actress Stormy Daniels $130,000 in hush money, while American Media paid $150,000 to former Playboy model Karen McDougal, both of whom claim to have had affairs with Trump a decade ahead of his run for the White House.