President Donald Trump said this week that while he had the legal power to dismiss former lawyer Robert Mueller, he had chosen not to do so because it "had not worked very well. "for President Richard Nixon when he had fired government officials at the Watergate. scandal.
He also claimed that Mueller's investigation was born of an "organization" that President Barack Obama "had to know".
The president made the statements in an interview with George Stephanopoulos of ABC News, published Sunday.
Trump's statements, which were unsupported by evidence and distorted the findings of the Mueller report, are the latest example of the president's operation to discredit Mueller's findings. Since the publication of the Mueller Report, Trump has been trying to protect itself from allegations of wrongdoing as Democrats discuss the question of whether an impeachment proceeding is brought against him on the basis of the heads of impeachment. potential for justice described in the report of the special council.
The Mueller report revealed that the president had tried to get the special advocate fired by former White House lawyer Don McGahn, but the latter had refused. In the interview, Trump rejected this finding and said his critics did not realize that he had exercised restraint by allowing the Mueller probe to continue.
"Article II [of the Constitution] allows me to do what I want, Article II would have allowed me to [Mueller], Said Trump. "But I was not going to fire him. You know why? Because I saw Richard Nixon chasing everyone and it did not work very well. "
Trump was talking about Nixon's "Saturday night massacre". On October 20, 1973, Nixon ordered the Department of Justice to dismiss Special Attorney Archibald Cox (the two most senior officials of the department resigned in protest, the third official finally agreed to carry out) who did not agree. heightened public outrage at the Watergate scandal.
Article II of the Constitution defines the powers and duties of the President; These include: concluding treaties (with the help of the Senate), commanding the army and navy, and delivering the State of the Union address. Julia Azari, of Vox, describes this article as "a text that barely says anything" and writes that it is an element of the Constitution that has sparked many legal debates. It is clear that Article II does not allow presidents to do what they want; However, it is not entirely clear whether this would have allowed Trump to fire Mueller.
Attorney General William Barr and other Trump administration officials – including the president himself – have called for an investigation into the origins of the Mueller report. Trump tweeted that he wanted to "investigate the investigators" and Barr said he wanted to "explore" what he termed "spying out of a political campaign" when he "wanted to investigate. a congressional hearing.
Trump is concerned that members of his campaign staff, including former adviser Carter Page, are being investigated by the FBI. Trump told Stephanopoulos that this FBI job (even though Page had been placed under surveillance after leaving Trump's campaign) showed that there had been a plot at the FBI to prevent his election.
When Stephanopoulos asked Trump when he thought Obama was behind an FBI conspiracy, Trump said his predecessor had at least knowledge of this "organization."
"I would say that he must have been aware, because it was very high in the chain, but you will find out," Trump said. "I will not make this statement yet, but I would say that President Obama should know that."
Throughout the interview, Trump repeatedly asserted that the Mueller report had cleared him of any wrongdoing. As Stephanopoulos tried to explain to the president, this is not the case. The Mueller report specifically says, "If we trusted after a thorough investigation of the facts, it is clear that the President did not obstruct the justice." The Mueller report does not say so.
At one point, Stephanopoulos also pointed out that the Mueller report does not say that there was no "collusion" with Russia. Trump denies him vigorously and abruptly ends the conversation with Stephanopoulos as he gets out of the car.
When asked why the Mueller report bothered him so much, Trump replied that it was "because it's wrong".
"I love the truth. I'm actually a very honest guy, "said Trump.
Trump's remarks were … misleading
Trump's assertion that he could have dismissed Mueller under Article II of the Constitution is questionable. This is a very vague and very vague article of the Constitution, and the resulting scope of executive power is the subject of constant debate among jurists. Some experts felt that Trump should have ordered a Justice Department official to dismiss the special advocate, while others felt that the president had the power to lay off.
Trump's claims about the Mueller report's findings were also misleading. As Stephanopoulos tried to make clear to the president, the report did not seek evidence of collusion – it is not a legal term – and in fact highlighted many links between the Trump campaign and Russia. The report also found at least 10 examples of possible obstruction to justice.
There is also no evidence that the FBI was involved in a plot to prevent Trump's election. Some FBI agents exchanged politically charged text messages suggesting they did not want Trump to be elected. While Carter Page and campaign assistant George Papadopoulos were being investigated for ties to Russia, there is no evidence of a campaign. the FBI to sabotage Trump's election. There is no indication that Obama has been aware of this written conversation criticizing Trump. Although Obama has tried to thwart Russia's efforts to influence the 2016 election, there is nothing to suggest that the former president had asked his Justice Department to sabotage Trump's campaign.