Pundits of various political stripes who appeared on CBSN’s “Red and Blue” may not disagree on everything when it comes to Robert Mueller’s investigation of Russian election meddling and any ties to Trump associates. But they do agree on one thing — firing Mueller would be a huge political miscalculation.
CBSN on Wednesday spoke with Stewart Baker, contributor for Lawfare and partner at the Washington office of Steptoe & Johnson LLP; Ned Ryan, founder and CEO of the conservative American Majority; and Sarah Kendzior, author of “The View From Flyover Country.”
“I think it would be an absolutely terrible idea politically,” Ryan said of the idea of firing Mueller, even though he believes the president probably has the authority to do so.
“I think he would give total life to this whole investigation yet again — I think he would put fuel on the fire of obstruction of justice,” Ryan added.
The president “probably has the legal authority to fire Mueller,” but it would be ill-advised, Baker said.
Kendzior said the president doesn’t understand that the Justice Department he heavily criticizes doesn’t necessarily work for him, and Attorney General Jeff Sessions isn’t his personal attorney.
“Trump does not understand that the DOJ and these federal bureaus are there to serve the public,” she said.
The panel comes on the heels of aby former Trump campaign manager — who is under indictment for money laundering and conspiracy charges as a result of the investigation and ensuing grand jury — claiming the scope of Mueller’s investigation is illegitimate.
Kendzior said, from what she has gathered, the lawsuit against Mueller and the DOJ was “predictable.” But she also said “more” charges may be expected against Manafort.
Ryan distanced Manafort from the Trump investigation, saying Manafort “was a bit of a sleazy guy” who was trying to evade taxes and demonstrated “questionable” behavior.
“I would just argue a lot of this had to do with behavior before the election,” Ryan said.
Baker pointed out that the lawsuit doesn’t have anything to do with Manafort’s innocence — Manafort simply is arguing that someone without the proper authority is prosecuting the case. Still, winning that lawsuit will be an “uphill” battle for Manafort, Baker said.
The full panel will air on CBSN’s “Red and Blue” at 9 p.m.
© 2018 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.