President Donald Trump is trying to figure out how to deflect attention from the growing potential legal threat that looms over the White House as a result of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, but his options are limited.
Both the president's lawyers and the White House have insisted that Trump would not take action to fire Mueller — because that action would also likely result in a clear obstruction of justice charge.
"There’s been no White House involvement in any activity to take any actions at all averse to the special counsel," White House attorney Ty Cobb said on Tuesday, Politico reported.
"I don’t support any kind of retaliatory action," Jay Sekulow, a personal attorney for Trump, said. "That’s not the position we’re advocating. We’re cooperating with the special counsel."
Steve Bannon, former White House chief strategist and current head of Breitbart News, has a different idea: de-fund Mueller's office.
Bannon is looking to garner "support for a proposal from Rep. Ron DeSantis, R-Fla., that would end funding for Mueller’s office within six months of the bill being signed into law," Politico reported. In order to gain the support, he has pushed the idea on prominent conservative news outlets and figures such as Fox News's Sean Hannity, and Laura Ingraham as well as radio host Rush Limbaugh.
Politico elaborated on the status of Mueller's funds:
For now, Mueller’s spending appears to be safe. His funds are drawn from a permanent Treasury Department account that isn’t subject to the annual appropriations process. It’s also controlled through an internal Justice Department audit, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has final authority to approve the special counsel’s spending plans.
But some GOP members have an even more extreme idea for Trump: launch a special counsel investigation into the Obama-era Uranium One deal. The subject of that probe would likely be Hillary Clinton, a longtime Fox News punching bag. An investigation into Clinton would allow conservative media members to get Trump out of the news cycle.
Longtime Trump ally and GOP operative, Roger Stone, said on Monday that Trump's "only chance for survival" was to launch a Justice Department investigation into the deal, despite several ongoing congressional probes, Politico reported. Stone did not return Salon's request for further comment.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, supported the idea on Twitter last week.
"Whoever in DOJ is capable w authority to appoint a special counsel shld do so to investigate Uranium One 'whoever' means if u aren't recused," Grassley wrote.
Whoever in DOJ is capable w authority to appoint a special counsel shld do so to investigate Uranium One "whoever" means if u aren't recused
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) October 25, 2017
Larry Klayman, a former Justice Department prosecutor, and founder of the conservative watchdog groups Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, has passed around a petition in which he nominated himself to be the special prosecutor. He is also known for several lawsuits against the Clintons.
Republican members of the House Judiciary Committee have also urged the Justice Department "to get a special counsel on the clock to examine everything from the FBI’s handling of last year’s probe into Clinton’s personal email server, which she used while she was secretary of state, to several actions related to former Obama-era Attorney General Loretta Lynch," Politico reported.
It's not currently clear how likely it is that a special counsel investigation into the Uranium One deal will be launched, but it merely serves the purpose of deflection and little else. Controversy over the deal has long been debunked and "there is no evidence that Clinton took a particular interest in the uranium sale or that it was an unusual transaction in any way," Salon previously reported.