West Palm Beach resident Christopher Ruddy, the CEO of Newsmax Media, sent the Washington rumor mill spinning on Monday when he told PBS that President Donald Trump is considering firing special counsel Robert Mueller.
“I think he’s considering, perhaps, terminating the special counsel. I think he’s weighing that option,” Ruddy told Judy Woodruff on PBS Newshour.
Ruddy added: “I personally think it would be a very significant mistake, even though I don’t think there’s a justification….for a special counsel in this case.”
Ruddy visited the White House Monday, but administration officials noted he didn’t speak with Trump. When White House press secretary Sean Spicer said “only the president or his attorneys are authorized to comment,” Ruddy pushed back this morning in an email to Politico Playbook.
“Spicer issued a bizarre late night press release that a) doesn’t deny my claim the President is considering firing Mueller and b) says I didn’t speak to the President about the matter — when I never claimed to have done so. Memo to Sean: focus your efforts on exposing the flim-flam Russian allegations against POTUS and highlighting his remarkable achievements! Don’t waste time trying to undermine one of your few allies,” Ruddy told Playbook.
Newsmax is headquartered in Boca Raton and is influential in the Trump administration. Its Washington correspondent, John Gizzi, regularly gets called upon to ask questions during White House press briefings. Ruddy is a member of Trump’s Mar-a-Lago Club who has met with the president several times since Trump took office.
In February, after talking with Trump at Mar-a-Lago, Ruddy told CNN that he didn’t think the president was being well-served by chief of staff Reince Priebus. Later in the day, however, Ruddy tweeted that he had been assured by presidential adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner that Priebus was doing an “amazing job.”
Ruddy gained fame in the 1990s as a critic of former President Bill Clinton. He authored a 1997 book that questioned the official account of Clinton confidante Vince Foster’s suicide and launched Newsmax in 1998 with billionaire Clinton antagonist Richard Mellon Scaife as an investor.
But Ruddy later became a friend of Clinton and donor to the Clinton Foundation.
In an April 2015 interview with The Palm Beach Post, Ruddy said he liked then-GOP frontrunner Jeb Bush for president. But he also foresaw problems that ultimately doomed Bush’s candidacy.
“I really like Jeb Bush,” Ruddy said at the time. “I think Jeb was a fantastic governor of the state of Florida. He has great executive abilities. He’s a philosophical conservative. But so far Jeb has not been connecting with the base of the Republican Party.”