President Donald Trump insisted that Article II of the U.S. Constitution, which outlines the functions of the executive branch, “allows” him “to do whatever” he wants, arguing that he had every legal right to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller.
Trump made the alarming comment during an exclusive interview with ABC News’ host George Stephanopoulos, who pressed him on his “efforts to remove the Special Counsel” as detailed in the Mueller report.
“Look, Article II, I would be allowed to fire Robert Mueller. Assuming I did all the things,” Trump said. “Number one, I didn’t. He wasn’t fired… But more importantly, Article II allows me to do whatever I want. Article II would have allowed me to fire him.”
EXCLUSIVE: President Trump tells @GStephanopoulos that he “wasn’t gonna fire” special counsel Robert Mueller because “I watched Richard Nixon go around firing everybody, and that didn’t work out too well.” https://t.co/XGywDOjKYw pic.twitter.com/qriHdg6TWR
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) June 16, 2019
Stephanopoulos pushed back, pointing out that his former White House counsel Don McGahn provided 30 hours of testimony to the office of Special Counsel, from which damaging details emerged about possible obstruction of justice. McGahn told the special counsel that Trump directed him to fire Robert Mueller and also alleged that Trump directed him to give false statements. McGahan refused both directions.
“I don’t care what he says,” Trump replied. “It doesn’t matter. That was to show everyone what a good counsel he was. Now he may have got confused with the fact that I’ve always said to anybody that would listen: Robert Mueller was conflicted.”
Trump also argued that McGahn lied under oath about being told to fire Mueller because he “wanted to make himself look like a good lawyer” or perhaps misunderstood Trump, because he constantly criticized the special counsel. “Robert Mueller had a total conflict of interest,” the president argued.
“Look, Article II [of the Constitution], I would be allowed to fire Robert Mueller,” he asserted. “Assuming I did all the things… Number one, I didn’t. He wasn’t fired … But more importantly, Article II allows me to do whatever I want. Article II would have allowed me to fire him,” Trump claimed.
Again, Trump insisted that he “wasn’t gonna fire” Mueller, pointing out that actions like that did not go very well for former President Richard Nixon, who resigned from office.
“I watched Richard Nixon go around firing everybody, and that didn’t work out too well,” Trump said.
Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance pushed back on Trump’s Article II claims, telling MSNBC: “The president is not a constitutional law scholar and his interpretation of Article II is just flawed. Even his Attorney General William Barr wouldn’t go as far as the president seems to do anything that he wants to do”
“The reality is that there are actions that the president can take that would violate the law,” she lectured. “He couldn’t, for instance, order a U.S. Attorney to indict one of his political enemies when there is no evidence to indict them. That would be a crime. He couldn’t accept a bribe in exchange for the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice — that would be a crime.”
“His power is not limitless and he is accountable under the Constitutions, ” she concluded.