Robert Ray Interviewed on CNN on Trump’s Ability to Fire Rod Rosenstein

“House Intel Could Vote on Releasing Nunes Memo Today”

Joining me now is Robert Ray, former federal prosecutor, former Whitewater independent counsel.

Robert, you’ve been listening to these discussions this morning. Let’s look at the newest part of it. Rod Rosenstein, the president, CNN’s reporting, apparently once again talking, maybe just musing out loud about if he can get rid of Rod Rosenstein. This memo that may be released as soon as this week apparently details alleged abuses or things that Rod Rosenstein did that Republicans on the House Intelligence Committee didn’t like.

This gets to the issue of loyalty which apparently Robert Mueller is probing inside. The president wants loyalty, he wants people who are loyal, the “Washington Post” reports, to make sure he doesn’t get in trouble with the investigation.

That loyalty is one thing. We all want people loyal to us.

ROBERT RAY, FORMER WHITEWATER INDEPENDENT COUNSEL: Sure. Every president wants that.

BERMAN: When does it cross a line?

RAY: Well, people are concerned about, you know, the issue of abuse of power if it crosses the line into really a concerted effort inside the executive branch to obstruct a criminal investigation. I think, look — and I know Rod Rosenstein very well. He’s a professional on the order of magnitude of Robert Mueller. Presidents want to in frustration get rid of people all the time. They understand and quickly learn in the political process, while you have the power to do those things, if you start firing people as he found out in firing Jim Comey it has political consequence.

BERMAN: He apparently has been calling Rod Rosenstein the Democrat from Baltimore.

RAY: Well, you know what, but I believe that Rod Rosenstein is insulated from being fired during the course of this investigation. It would be a huge mistake for that to happen and I think there are well-meaning people within the White House who have the president’s best interests at heart who are advising him, you know, go slow. You’ll survive this investigation.

I think that’s what Ty Cobb’s advice is and I think any effort to be seen as a personnel decision that would further interfere with the investigation would be something that you can lose a presidency over and that’s why it hasn’t been done.

BERMAN: Let’s just put a button on this right now. You do think he has the power, the authority.

RAY: Of course.

BERMAN: He could fire Rod Rosenstein if he wanted to.

RAY: Of course.

BERMAN: Would firing him be a problem beyond just politically? Would it be something the special counsel would be able to look at then?

RAY: Well, I think there’s been enough question raised about that that one would be concerned about that as well. You wouldn’t want to feed the narrative. I mean, look, that’s both a political decision and a legal decision…