All Sections

Home | Politics

Former White House press secretary Fleischer says firing Bob Mueller 'won't make investigation go away'

By KEVIN LANDRIGAN
New Hampshire Union Leader

April 12. 2018 8:02PM
Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush, speaks with editors and reporters at the New Hampshire Union Leader in Manchester on Thursday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)



MANCHESTER — Former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer said Republicans are likely to lose control of the U.S. House in 2018, but could then grab the majority back in 2020.

The decision of House Speaker Paul Ryan not to seek reelection reminds him of 1994 when then-Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell’s unexpected retirement led to the GOP taking control in that chamber.

“Mitchell’s abdication of the majority leadership was the coup de grace, it just sent all the signals that the Democrats would not hold the Senate and I fear the same signal was sent by Ryan stepping down,” Fleischer said.

“There’s just a huge wave out there, a huge anti-Trump wave out there.”

But Fleischer said Democratic leaders are captives of the far-left wing of their party and will overplay their hand if they win the House.

“Democrats are going to have a huge problem if they take the majority unless they take it by 30 or 40 seats. They won’t be able to govern with a small coalition but what they can do is get pushed so far to the left...that they strengthen Donald Trump’s hand for 2020.

“There could be a ping-pong effect with Republicans losing the House in 2018 and then coming back with a big victory to take it back in 2020.”

Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush, chats with Publisher Joe McQuaid at the New Hampshire Union Leader in Manchester on Thursday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

During an interview at the New Hampshire Union Leader, Fleischer said it would be a “tragedy” for President Trump to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein because either move would only lengthen the federal investigation into whether there was Russian collusion with the Trump campaign in the 2016 election.

“I think it would be a tragedy. Firing Rosenstein, firing Mueller won’t make the investigation go away. It will make it go longer again,” Fleischer said.

“If he wants to get this over with, let Mueller finish and find no collusion.”

While Fleischer has defended Mueller’s probe, he finds “very troubling” the raid and seizure of documents from the New York home and office of Michael Cohen, Trump’s personal lawyer.

“I don’t know what Mueller knows; I must presume he had good legitimate reasons to make the referral to the southern district of New York. But if this has to do with Stormy Daniels, if this has to do with FEC violations, if this has to do with Access Hollywood, I just can’t see how any of those rise to the level of violating attorney-client privilege.”

Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush, speaks with editors and reporters at the New Hampshire Union Leader in Manchester on Thursday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Fleischer was in the state to appear at a $125-per-person fundraiser for the New Hampshire Republican State Committee at the Bedford home of Mary Jane and John Smith.

Fleischer said a presidential run is not in his future.

“I told my wife if I was asked that, I was going to let the rumor go so it would bother her. Of course not,” Fleischer said.

Those even considering a primary challenge of Trump in 2020 underestimate the task, he said.

“Look, I think anybody who thinks they can take on President Trump and win in a Republican primary is very mistaken. It would be the most uphill of uphills,” Fleischer said. “Anybody who wants to challenge for President in a Republican primary has to hope Bob Mueller takes down President Trump.”

On international affairs, Fleischer said he believes Trump deliberately telegraphed a strike against Syria and then contradicted it a day later to keep his adversaries guessing.

“He was doing what he said he was going to do, which was to be unpredictable and he was deliberately being unpredictable to keep them off guard and to build a coalition to deliver a more significant blow than the first strike,” Fleischer said.

As for tariffs against China, Fleischer said it’s a gambit worth trying.

“We have failed to make China play by the rules when they were a small economy. We looked the other way when they were a medium-sized economy,” Fleisher said.

“Now that they are an economic superpower we say we can’t mess with them.

“I am optimistic that we will achieve a good result. It is risky in the case of tariffs and Trump. He takes risks.”

Ari Fleischer, former White House press secretary for President George W. Bush, speaks with editors and reporters at the New Hampshire Union Leader in Manchester on Thursday. (DAVID LANE/UNION LEADER)

Fleischer said the only way to restore fiscal discipline on Capitol Hill is to eliminate the filibuster which creates catch-all spending bills that increase deficits. He predicted the tax cuts would create more economic growth than congressional budget experts expect.

“The culprit is not only the individual members who talk a good game but don’t follow up; the real culprit here is the filibuster,” Fleischer said.

“It’s government by brinkmanship over routine business.”

klandrigan@unionleader.com


Politics Manchester


Newsletter Signup