When Ken Starr served as independent counsel investigating then-President Bill Clinton, he was often criticized for going outside the bounds of what his investigation was meant to be. Now, he’s making the same claim about Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation of Trump campaign ties to Russia.
In a CNN interview on Wednesday, Starr talked about how Mueller is apparently looking into Trump’s financial dealings prior to 2016, which he thinks is too far removed from the initial purpose of the investigation.
“I think it’s beyond his mandate,” Starr said, saying that the investigation was meant to look into collusion with Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 election.
Starr made clear that just because Mueller shouldn’t go there, that doesn’t mean the Justice Department shouldn’t investigate it at all.
“It doesn’t mean it wouldn’t be looked into,” Starr said, “but it might very well be ‘Mueller, you’re not the person to do it, we’re going to have someone else do it.'”
Host Chris Cuomo said that Trump’s earlier business dealings could very well tie into Russian collusion, because they could potentially provide a basis for why he might be beholden to Russia. Trump’s son has acknowledged the significant amount of business that Trump has conducted in Russia in the past.
“It’s a judgment call,” Starr acknowledged, saying that Mueller may very well be saying, “This is a logical outgrowth of what we’ve been looking into.”
Later in the interview, Starr defended his Clinton investigation from similar attacks of going outside its intended scope by looking into the Monica Lewinsky affair.
“It was authorized by the Attorney General of the United States,” Starr said, saying that AG Janet Reno “specifically said in light of the Linda Tripp tapes, this has to be examined.” He said that Reno went to the court and said that the perjury allegations against Clinton had to be investigated, and that’s what he did.
[Image via CNN screengrab]