Appointing Mueller As Special Counsel Is A Great Move, Rep. Farenthold Says
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
And let's keep this conversation going with a Republican member of Congress. It's Blake Farenthold of Texas. He's in our studios this morning. Congressman, good morning to you.
BLAKE FARENTHOLD: Good morning.
GREENE: You like the choice of Robert Mueller as special counsel here?
FARENTHOLD: I think it's a great move. It's going to ramp down, I think, some of the rhetoric that has really been sweeping through Washington over the past few days.
GREENE: some have described it as even an outbreak of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill. Are you feeling that?
FARENTHOLD: I think both Republicans and Democrats respect Mr. Mueller. And I think everybody wants to get to the bottom of this. A lot of this has just been - the accusations have been anonymous tips, memos we haven't seen. Now we're going to get a true investigation.
GREENE: You say everyone wants to get to the bottom of this. You've also suggested that President Trump has not been getting a fair shake in all of this. What exactly do you mean by that?
FARENTHOLD: Well, I have five televisions in my office, and for the past...
GREENE: You watch all of them at the same time? (Laughter).
FARENTHOLD: I'm ADD. It's one of the things that I can do. But it's pretty much been wall-to-wall coverage on all the cable news networks. It's eclipsing everything else that's happening in the world. And it's getting in the way of President Trump doing what he was elected to do and that's drain the swamp and radically reform how things are done here in Washington.
GREENE: But are you suggesting that some of these issues are somehow not serious?
FARENTHOLD: They are, but remember everything here is - comes from anonymous tips and allegations. It's - and the media is covering it wall to wall as if the allegations were facts. And I don't think that's fair to President Trump. And I don't think that's fair to the American people.
GREENE: Well, let me just push back a little bit, if I may. I mean, you know, I have colleagues, and there are other reporters who have confirmed that James Comey, when he was FBI director, authored a memo which seems to suggest that President Trump said something about former national security adviser Michael Flynn and something about whether or not the FBI should continue its investigation.
I mean, obviously we - it would be up to Bob Mueller, it would be up to others to decide whether there was any criminal wrongdoing or whether this was just innocent, but is that not something that is worth exploring?
FARENTHOLD: Absolutely, but it's not worth exploring 24/7 at the expense of all other stories that are happening in the world.
GREENE: In one interview, you said that President Trump is just transitioning from being a CEO into the chief executive of a country, the president, and that the rules are different. I was really struck by that. What did you mean by that?
FARENTHOLD: In a company, you have a lot more freedom to do what you want without really being as concerned about what people say. It's your company. You answer basically to your board of directors. But as president of the United States, you answer to everybody in the country. And as a result, you sometimes need to take a step back and maybe tamp down your rhetoric a little bit as well.
GREENE: You're saying that the president is going through a learning process?
FARENTHOLD: I think it's a transition process. And - but again, I think the American people chose Donald Trump because he doesn't do Washington speak. He tells it like it is, and - American people want that. They're tired of the language that's carefully crafted to really not say anything.
GREENE: One moment comes to mind, this meeting with Russian diplomats where the president revealed something that came through highly classified material from a U.S. ally. I wonder if that's an example you're looking at that maybe the president wasn't used to the rules about what he could or could not reveal and that that might be a lesson learned.
FARENTHOLD: Well, again, you've got another story here that we are talking about that every American who was in that meeting says President Trump didn't say anything inappropriate. Again, you've got - this is another example of folks in the media taking everything that Donald Trump says and giving it the worst possible spin. I mean, it's like Donald Trump could say, I like puppies, and the news story would be Donald Trump hates kittens.
GREENE: I don't if that would be the case, but I see the point you're trying to make. But it sounds though that the White House has said that he did not reveal any sources or methods, but it doesn't seem that they are disputing that he revealed something that was classified. And I guess I'm wondering here if the point you're making is that he should be given a pass and that maybe he would learn something in another conversation like that in the future?
FARENTHOLD: I think Donald Trump needs to slow down a little bit and use the experts that he has within the White House. You've got very experienced communicators in Spicer and Kellyanne Conway. One of the things that - it took me a little while to learn when I was in Congress was when I wanted to send a tweet, I shouldn't take out my phone and tweet. I should send it to somebody in my office and let them correct the spelling and let them say, hey, Congressman, are you sure you want to say that?
GREENE: Let me just ask you this. I have been asking - we've all been talking to Democrats this morning as well and asking if they are prepared to accept whatever Bob Mueller finds as special counsel. For example, if he finds that there was absolutely no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, whether they are ready to accept that and move on.
Let me turn the question a little bit. If he finds that there might have been something like obstruction of justice on the president's part, are you ready to accept that and take whatever next steps would be necessary?
FARENTHOLD: Oh, I'm loathe to answer hypothetical questions because you never really know what may or may not happen, but I do think with Mueller's reputation I'm looking forward to an honest and thorough review of all of the issues that will satisfy both Republicans and Democrats.
GREENE: OK, speaking this morning with Republican Congressman Blake Farenthold of the state of Texas. The congressman has been on our program before, and we really appreciate your time as always. Thanks a lot, Congressman.
FARENTHOLD: Thank you.
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