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更新时间:2018-1-28 10:31:53 来源:纽约时报中文网 作者:佚名

Trump Ordered Mueller Fired, but Backed Off When White House Counsel Threatened to Quit

WASHINGTON — President Trump ordered the firing last June of Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel overseeing the Russia investigation, according to four people told of the matter, but ultimately backed down after the White House counsel threatened to resign rather than carry out the directive.

华盛顿——四名知情人士透露,特朗普总统去年6月曾下令撤换领导通俄调查的特别检察官罗伯特·S·穆勒三世(Robert S. Mueller III),但最终在白宫律师威胁宁愿辞职也不执行该命令后放弃。

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.


Amid the first wave of news media reports that Mr. Mueller was examining a possible obstruction case, the president began to argue that Mr. Mueller had three conflicts of interest that disqualified him from overseeing the investigation, two of the people said.


First, he claimed that a dispute years ago over fees at Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Va., had prompted Mr. Mueller, the F.B.I. director at the time, to resign his membership. The president also said Mr. Mueller could not be impartial because he had most recently worked for the law firm that previously represented the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Finally, the president said, Mr. Mueller had been interviewed to return as the F.B.I. director the day before he was appointed special counsel in May.

首先,他声称,多年前在弗吉尼亚州斯特林的特朗普全国高尔夫俱乐部(Trump National Golf Club),因收费而发生的一场争吵促使时任联邦调查局(FBI)局长穆勒放弃了自己的会员资格;总统还说,穆勒无法做到公正,因为他的上一家雇主是此前代表总统女婿贾里德·库什纳(Jared Kushner)利益的律所;最后,总统说穆勒在5月被任命为特别检察官的前一天,接受了为让他再次担任FBI局长而安排的面谈。

After receiving the president’s order to fire Mr. Mueller, the White House counsel, Donald F. McGahn II, refused to ask the Justice Department to dismiss the special counsel, saying he would quit instead, the people said. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not want to be identified discussing a continuing investigation.

相关人士透露,收到总统解雇穆勒的命令后,白宫律师唐纳德·F·麦格恩二世(Donald F. McGahn II)拒绝要求司法部解雇这位特别检察官,称否则他就辞职。因为讨论的是一场仍在进行的调查,这些相关人士要求匿名。

Mr. McGahn disagreed with the president’s case. He also told senior White House officials that firing Mr. Mueller would have a catastrophic effect on Mr. Trump’s presidency and would incite more questions about whether the White House was trying to obstruct the Russia investigation. Mr. McGahn also told White House officials that Mr. Trump would not follow through on the dismissal on his own. The president then backed off.


“We decline to comment out of respect for the Office of the Special Counsel and its process,” Ty Cobb, the president’s lawyer who manages the White House’s relationship with Mr. Mueller’s office, said in a statement.

“出于对特别检察官办公室(Office of the Special Counsel)及其程序的尊重,我们拒绝发表评论,”总统的律师泰·柯布(Ty Cobb)在一份声明中说。他负责处理白宫与穆勒办公室之间的关系。

Mr. McGahn, a longtime Republican campaign finance lawyer in Washington who served on the Federal Election Commission, was the top lawyer on Mr. Trump’s campaign. He has been involved in nearly every key decision Mr. Trump has made — like the firing of the former F.B.I. director — that is being scrutinized by Mr. Mueller.

麦格恩长期担任共和党在华盛顿的竞选财务律师,曾供职于联邦选举委员会(Federal Election Commission),是特朗普竞选团队的首席律师。穆勒正在调查的特朗普的所有关键决定几乎都与麦格恩有关,比如解雇前FBI局长一事。

Around the time Mr. Trump wanted to fire Mr. Mueller, the president’s legal team, led then by his longtime personal lawyer in New York, Marc E. Kasowitz, was taking an adversarial approach to the Russia investigation. The president’s lawyers were digging into potential conflict-of-interest issues for Mr. Mueller and his team, according to current and former White House officials, and news media reports revealed that several of Mr. Mueller’s prosecutors had donated to Democrats.

在特朗普想解雇穆勒的前后时期,总统的法律团队对通俄调查采取对抗态度。当时领导该团队的是马克·E·卡索威茨(Marc E. Kasowitz),他曾长期任特朗普在纽约的私人律师。据现任和前任白宫官员称,当时总统的律师们正在挖掘穆勒及其团队存在的潜在利益冲突问题,而媒体报道显示,穆勒领导的检察官中有多人曾给民主党人捐款。

Mr. Mueller could not legally have considered political affiliations when making hiring decisions. But for Mr. Trump’s supporters, it reinforced the idea that, although Mr. Mueller is a Republican, he had assembled a team of Democrats to take down the president.


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. Mr. Rosenstein has overseen the investigation since March, when Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself.

在与顾问的讨论中,特朗普考虑的另一个选项是解雇司法部副部长罗德·J·罗森斯坦(Rod J. Rosenstein),并提拔该部门位列第三的官员蕾切尔·布兰德(Rachel Brand)以监督穆勒。自从3月司法部长杰夫·塞申斯(Jeff Sessions)回避调查后,调查一直由罗森斯坦负责监督。

Mr. Trump has significantly ratcheted back his criticisms of Mr. Mueller since he hired Mr. Cobb in July. A veteran of several high-profile Washington controversies, Mr. Cobb has known Mr. Mueller for decades, dating to their early careers in the Justice Department.


He advised Mr. Trump that he had nothing to gain from combat with Mr. Mueller, a highly respected former prosecutor and F.B.I. director who has subpoena power as special counsel. Since Mr. Cobb’s arrival, the White House has operated on the premise that the quickest way to clear the cloud of suspicion was to cooperate with Mr. Mueller, not to fight him.


Nonetheless, Mr. Trump has wavered for months about whether he wants to fire Mr. Mueller, whose job security is an omnipresent concern among the president’s legal team and close aides. The president’s lawyers, including Mr. Cobb, have tried to keep Mr. Trump calm by assuring him for months, amid new revelations about the inquiry, that it is close to ending.


Mr. Trump has long demonstrated a preoccupation with those who have overseen the Russia investigation. In March, after Mr. McGahn failed to persuade Attorney General Jeff Sessions not to recuse himself from the inquiry, Mr. Trump complained that he needed someone loyal to oversee the Justice Department.


The former F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, said Mr. Trump asked him for loyalty and encouraged him to drop an investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael T. Flynn. Mr. Comey said he sidestepped those requests. He was soon fired.

前联邦调查局局长詹姆斯·B·科米(James B. Comey)表示特朗普曾要求自己效忠于他,并怂恿他放弃对特朗普的前国家安全顾问迈克尔·T·弗林(Michael T. Flynn)的调查。科米表示自己无视了那些要求。没过多久,他就被解职了。

In an interview with The New York Times in the Oval Office in July, the president pointedly kept open the option of firing Mr. Mueller, saying that the special counsel would be passing a “red line” if his investigation expanded to look at Mr. Trump’s finances. Mr. Trump said he never would have made Mr. Sessions the attorney general if he knew he was going to recuse himself from the investigation.


Last month, as Republicans were increasing their attacks on the special counsel, Mr. Trump said in an interview with The Times that he believed Mr. Mueller was going to treat him fairly.


“No, it doesn’t bother me because I hope that he’s going to be fair,” Mr. Trump said in response to a question about whether it bothered him that Mr. Mueller had not yet ended his investigation. “I think that he’s going to be fair.”


Mr. Trump added: “There’s been no collusion. But I think he’s going to be fair.”