Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says he sees no reason why special counsel Robert Mueller should stop leading the probe into Russian interference in last year's U.S. election.
"Special counsel Mueller may be fired only for good cause," Rosenstein said. "If there were good cause, I would consider it. If there were not good cause, it wouldn't matter to me what anybody says."
After media reports said President Donald Trump was thinking about firing Mueller, Rosenstein told the Senate Committee on Appropriations only he can give Mueller the boot.
Here's why. According to the rules, technically only the attorney general can fire a special counsel.
But in this particular case, Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from anything relating to the Russia investigation.
So as deputy attorney general, Rosenstein would have the power to remove Mueller from his position — as long as he had a good reason to do that and put it in writing.
Now, Trump could order Rosenstein to fire Mueller.
But Rosenstein made it very clear how that would go.
"I'm not going to follow any orders unless I believe those are lawful and appropriate orders," Rosenstein said.
Rosenstein's comments come just a few hours after one of Trump's longtime friends told "PBS NewsHour" the president was thinking about firing Mueller. The White House has denied those claims.