President Donald Trump came under criticism after a report alleged he tried to remove special counsel Robert Mueller in June 2017. But according to former special prosecutor Kenneth Starr, the president has every right to fire Mueller if he so desires.
Starr, who investigated former President Bill Clinton during the 1990s, indicated during a Monday appearance on Fox News that under the U.S. Constitution, Trump has control over executive branch personnel decisions.
Since Mueller — the man in charge of investigating alleged Russian collusion in the 2016 election — technically works for the Department of Justice, which is part of the executive branch, Trump has the power to fire him.
“The president has very broad powers. Article II of the Constitution of the United States vests the executive power in the president,” Starr said, as reported by The Daily Caller. “We’ve elected the president, and he has all this power.”
Trump is “at liberty” to decide he wants Mueller out, Starr added, even if he thinks Mueller is simply “not doing a good job” or if his investigation is “interfering” with the “conduct” of Trump’s presidency.
“Everybody says, oh, my goodness, this is Armageddon,” Starr added, referring to The New York Times report claiming that Trump tried to fire Mueller.
But he noted the importance of the fact that, according to the report, Trump ended up following the advice of White House counsel Don McGahn, who threatened to resign rather than allow his boss to follow through with his intentions.
In a separate interview with ABC’s “This Week,” Starr reiterated his belief that Trump can fire Mueller “for any reason.”
“He can ask for Mueller to be fired for any reason,” Starr said Sunday. “The president’s power is extremely broad, as long as he’s not engaged in discrimination or accepting bribes.”
However, he did suggest that doing so “would have been extremely unwise.”
Trump, for his part, has called The Times report in question “fake news, folks, fake news. Typical New York Times fake stories.”
Starr, though, pointed out that if The Times’ reporting is valid, then Trump may have a problem, considering his public denial of the story.
“If the reports are correct that President Trump sought to have Mueller fired, then his public denial would be false,” Starr said. “So would that be grounds for impeachment?”
“I think lying to the American people is a serious issue that has to be explored. I take lying to the American people very, very seriously,” he added. “So absolutely … I think that is something that Bob Mueller should look at.”
According to CNN, when Starr was prosecuting Clinton, he argued for impeachment based on the fact that Clinton publicly denied having an affair with Monica Lewinsky. Clinton later admitted to a sexual relationship with the former White House intern.
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