Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” former Whitewater independent counsel Ken Starr told host Margaret Brennan that President Donald Trump had the authority to fire special counsel Robert Mueller if he saw fit.
Starr said the question of firing Mueller would deal with the politics of it and it was not an obstruction of justice question.
Partial transcript as follows:
BRENNAN: Well, we also know that Bob Mueller’s team is talking with the president’s own attorneys about getting the chance to interview him. You faced some of these questions when you were dealing with then-President Clinton. I think you went to him something like six times. You ended up having to subpoena before ultimately he agreed to sit down.
If you were consulting with President Trump’s lawyers, would you advise him to sit with counsel, and sit with Bob Mueller?
STARR: I think they’d better be cautious. And I think they are being cautious. First, we have to remember, this is the president of the United States, and this is an authorized law enforcement investigation. So that makes the situation unique. Looking at it simply from the perspective of a defense lawyer, you never want your client, unless you have an extraordinarily high level of confidence, to be exposed in this way.
So there are only two perspectives here, the president, you’re talking to the president of the United States, but he also is the — at least the subject of a serious investigation. So I think caution is the rule of thumb here.
BRENNAN: But an obligation — is there an obligation on his part to sit and answer these questions?
STARR: I think there may be a moral obligation, frankly, because he is the president of the United States. And unless he takes very decisive action, such as directing the firing of the special council. And there’s been no suggestion to my knowledge that that’s in the offing at all.
BRENNAN: But you believe he could?
STARR: Oh, yes, the president clearly has the authority to direct the firing, if not a direct firing himself.
BRENNAN: What would that signify to you?
STARR: It would be, I think, but it’s a political question, I don’t think it’s obstruction of justice. And I disagree with those who seem to find obstruction of justice in almost anything that the president has done. But it certainly would be, I think, a political firefight of — of the highest order because you have people in both parties saying, this is an authorized investigation, let it run its course.
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