On MSNBC, Mark Halperin pushes right-wing attack on Mueller’s fitness as special counsel

From the July 27 edition of MSNBC's Morning Joe

Video file

MARK HALPERIN: Let me ask you about something The Wall Street Journal raises in their editorial today, which is otherwise very critical of the president. They say the president is right, that appointing [Robert] Mueller as the special counsel was a mistake because of his close relationship both with the FBI,which he headed, and with his successor there [Former FBI Director] Mr. [James] Comey. Is that a fair position do you think? Is there some merit to that, thathe was the wrong choice.

BENJAMIN WITTES: It's a ridiculous position. So, first of all, this is an enormously complicated investigation. It involves counterintelligence elements, it involves criminal elements, it involves a wide swath of the bureau's, and the Justice Department's investigative, and potentially prosecutorial functions. There are relatively few people in the United States who are actually qualified to walk in on day one to run it. And Bob Mueller is one of these people.

HALPERIN: I agree with you that he's qualified to deal with the complexity. But just to go to the specific point, doesn't his friendship with James Comey make it complicated for him now that James Comey is part of the investigation?

WITTES: Look, I don't want to speak to their personal relationship of which I'm not especially –I don't know that relationship that well. I have never had the impression that it is a close personal relationship. Jim Comey was Mueller's successor. They worked together at the Justice Department. I believe they have a lot of mutual admiration. I know that that's true in Jim's case. I do not have the impression that they're especially close, and I think that the closeness of the relationship is largely a creation of the people who want there to be some sort of conflict in that regard. I think it's a mutually respectful admiring professional relationship.


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