US President Donald Trump is liable to face impeachment if he is found to have lied about trying to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller according to Ken Starr, the independent counsel who investigated the Clinton White House.
Trump has called the reports stating that he had called for Mueller’s firing last year “fake news” .
Speaking to a TV channel, Starr, who had used Bill Clinton’s false statements regarding his relationship with Monica Lewinsky as grounds for impeachment, said that “lying to the American people” was a serious issue.
Mueller is investigating Russia’s interference in the 2016 US presidential election, as well as the alleged collusion between Russian officials and Trump aides, and the several reported instances of possible obstruction of justice by the president.
President Has Issued Repeated Denials
A New York Times report, later confirmed by other publications, revealed that in June 2017, Trump had ordered White House counsel Donald McGahn to fire Mueller. McGahn reportedly resisted saying that he would resign rather than carry out the order.
Since June, the president has denied publicly several times that he was considering firing Mueller. Similarly White House officials including Kellyanne Conway and Trump’s chief counsel, John Dowd have said in multiple media interactions that the president has not discussed firing him.
Some Republicans have expressed concern at the reports that Trump had to be talked down from firing Mueller and have said it should prompt congressional action.
South Carolina senator Lindsay Graham said that attempting to fire Mueller would mean “the end of [Trump’s] presidency,” though he added that there was no evidence that President wants to fire Mueller now
Republicans Divided On Need For Legislation To Protect Mueller
Many of the senior party figures have downplayed the reports of the president wanting to fire the special counsel.
Moderate Republican senator Susan Collins has said that it “probably wouldn’t hurt” for Congress to pass a law protecting Mueller.
However House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy has dismissed the need for legislation to protect Mueller.
Collins expressed confidence in deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Russia investigation as Attorney General of the United States Jeff Sessions had to recuse himself from the investigation for failing to disclose his contacts with Russian officials during the presidential campaign.
Rosenstein appointed Mueller days after Trump fired FBI director James Comey last May.
In the meanwhile Trump has insisted that he is “looking forward” to being interviewed by Mueller.