McConnell: 'The Mueller investigation is not under threat'

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., speaking to members of the media at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) - The Senate's top Republican expressed confidence Friday that the Russia investigation will be allowed to run its course, saying President Donald Trump has never signaled to him that special counsel Robert Mueller could be fired.

Speaking to reporters in his home state, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell also predicted that Matthew Whitaker's stint as acting attorney general will be short. McConnell said he thinks the president will "pretty quickly" send the Senate a nominee for a new attorney general.

McConnell, a close Trump ally who said Friday that he talks frequently with the president, insisted that Mueller's investigation into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia in 2016 is not under threat.

"The president has said repeatedly he's not going to dismiss the Mueller investigation," McConnell told reporters at Kentucky's Capitol. "He's said repeatedly it's going to be allowed to finish. That also happens to be my view."

McConnell, who sets the Senate's agenda, reiterated that legislation to protect Mueller from firing is unnecessary. Republican Sen. Jeff Flake and Democratic Sen. Chris Coons say they will try to force a vote next week on the measure.

Trump has told confidants he remains deeply annoyed by the 18-month-old Mueller probe, believing it is not just a "witch hunt" but an expensive and lengthy negative distraction. The latest indication of his fury came Wednesday when he forced out his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, whose recusal opened the door to Mueller's appointment.

McConnell didn't weigh in on whether Whitaker should recuse himself from the Mueller probe. He added that Whitaker's role heading the Justice Department will be a brief one.

"I think this will be a very interim AG," McConnell said.