United States President Donald Trump is reportedly considering sacking Robert Mueller - the special independent counsel appointed to investigate allegations of Russian meddling in last year's USA election - according to a friend and close confidant to the President.
Senior administration officials batted down the notion that Trump was considering firing Mueller after Christopher Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax Media and a friend of the president's, alleged that he was during an appearance on "PBS Newshour" Monday.
Robert Mueller's investigation is looking into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin, and is also looking into financial crimes among Trump associates, the Post wrote, citing five unnamed intelligence officials.
Mueller was appointed to the position by Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein on May 17, less than one week after Trump abruptly and without warning fired FBI Director James Comey - and subsequently admitted in a televised interview that he had "this Russian Federation thing" in mind when he chose to fire the widely respected FBI head.
Mr Ruddy said he spoke to the President on Friday.
A senior White House official confirmed that the president interviewed Mueller for the FBI post in the Oval Office the day before he was tapped by the deputy attorney general to serve as the special counsel in the Russian Federation investigation. If Trump were to make such a move, he would have to order Rosenstein to fire Mueller.
The obstruction of justice investigation into Trump began days after Comey was sacked on May 9, according to people familiar with the matter, the Washington Post said. She asked whether he has seen "any evidence of good cause" to fire Mueller.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders, a White House spokesman, said Monday that "Chris speaks for himself", and declined to comment further. Any such step would face a steep hurdle as it would require approval by the U.S. House of Representatives, which is controlled by Trump's fellow Republicans. "I think he is weighing that option".
"In this case, we have what could serve as a trial balloon", he said on "Anderson Cooper 360", suggesting that it might be a way to test public reaction.
Just weeks ago, Mr Gingrich heaped praise on Mr Mueller, hailing him as a "superb choice" for special counsel whose reputation was "impeccable for honesty and integrity". "Look who is hiring".
"We're not going to let the President choose who conducts this investigation", he said.
Rep. Adam Schiff, of California, the top Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, warned Trump that dismissing Mueller would ultimately be futile, saying "Don't waste your time".