Democratic senators repeatedly criticized Sessions for dispatching Rosenstein to testify Tuesday in his place about the Justice Department's budget to an Appropriations subcommittee.
Sam Nunberg, who worked for Trump's presidential campaign, said it "could seem to be a conflict" for Mueller to first interview with the president to be a possible replacement for fired FBI Director James Comey and then days later to be named as the special counsel heading an investigation that could look into Comey's firing.
In May, Rosenstein appointed former FBI Director Mueller as special counsel overseeing the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Ruddy said that, from what he can tell, firing Mueller is "a consideration the President has had because Mueller is illegitimate as special counsel". She asked whether he has seen "any evidence of good cause" to fire Mueller.
"When the day comes that our country can not rely on people to deliver the truth about whatever the subject is from positions of great authority and great reputations, like Mueller, and if we just dismiss those as not being not able to deliver us the truth about an issue we've got more problems than we think we have", Womack said.
Lawmakers were eager to ask Rosenstein about whether the special counsel was safe from being fired by the president after Ruddy made his provocative comments on PBS's "NewsHour" that Trump was "weighing" whether to dismiss Mueller. And in fact, the chain of command for the special counsel is only directly to the attorney general, or in this case the acting attorney general.More news: Jeff Sessions calls notion he colluded with Russian Federation a 'detestable lie'
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Rosenstein said Mueller can "only be fired for good cause", and it would be his job to put that good cause into writing.
During his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee last Thursday, former FBI Director James Comey said Sessions may have met for a third, undisclosed time, with Amb. He described Mueller as operating independently from the Justice Department in his investigation.
"I think he's considering perhaps terminating the special counsel".
As attorney general, Sessions is unlikely to answer in detail questions about conversations he's had with Trump. "I heard this was a rumor we heard last night, so there's really not something to debate that is occurring with this".
He told senators during a committee hearing that there would have to be "good cause" for Mueller to be removed from his role.
"You're not the witness who should be behind that table", Leahy said to Rosenstein. "So nobody else in the department will have the authority to do that", said Rosenstein.
"You can raise those concerns" to both Mueller and the DOJ, Rosenstein told Graham. "They came to praise Donald Trump, not focus on the controversies engulfing him", Reuters reporters, barely able to contain its incredulity.
Sessions' appearance before the intelligence committee is an indication of just how much the Russian Federation investigation has shaded his tenure.