President Donald Trump, in a wide-ranging interview that aired Sunday morning on ABC, said he never would have fired special counsel Robert Mueller because the dismissal of Justice Department officials in 1973 "didn't work out too well" for former President Richard Nixon.
Trump also said he did not sit for an interview with investigators during the special counsel's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, "because they were looking to get us for lies, for slight misstatements." Instead, Trump submitted written responses. "I looked at what happened to people and it was very unfair," he told ABC News anchor George Stephanopoulos.
During the interview on "This Week," Trump said he never was going to fire Mueller. "Because I watched Richard Nixon go around firing everybody, and that didn't work out too well," Trump said.
In October 1973, Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox. He refused to carry out the order and resigned. Then, Nixon ordered Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox. Ruckelshaus refused and was dismissed. Solicitor General Robert Bork then carried out the order. In less than a year, Nixon himself resigned.
Trump said Article II of the U.S. Constitution, which establishes the executive branch, "allows me to do whatever I want. Article II would have allowed me to fire him."
Trump also told Stephanopoulos that former President Barack Obama "must have known" about a "setup" to prevent him from becoming president. "I would say that he certainly must have known about it because it went very high up in the chain. But you're going find that out. I'm not going make that statement quite yet. But I would say that President Obama had to know about it," Trump said.
Asked by Stephanopoulos about a statement signed by more than 1,000 ex-prosecutors who said Trump wasn't indicted because of Justice Department opinion that presidents cannot be charged criminally while in office, Trump responded: "They're politicians. I could get you 5,000 that would also say that there's nothing. You know, I — I saw their names. And these are all — many of them are Trump haters. Many of them if you look at the names."
Trump said that the Mueller report bothers him so much "because it's untrue. I like the truth. You know, I'm actually a very honest guy. If I thought they were correct, I wouldn't be complaining at all. I understand that. It's like the witch hunt that goes on," he said.
Asked by Stephanopoulos "if someone else offers you information on opponents, should they accept it or should they call the FBI?" Trump responded, "I think maybe you do both. I think you might want to listen. I don't — there's nothing wrong with listening. If somebody called from a country, Norway, 'We have information on your opponent.' Oh, I think I'd want to hear it."
Asked about the prospect of impeachment, Trump said, "The Republicans in the Senate, every single one of them that I see know this is a witch hunt. They get it a hundred percent. And that's what matters."
He added that "the Democrats are going do it only because they might think it helps them. I think it actually hurts them in the election. But there's never been a time in the history of our country where somebody was so mistreated as I have been. And this should never, ever be allowed to happen to another president again."
Also Sunday, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-Bronx/Queens) told ABC News' Jonathan Karl on "This Week" that "every day that passes the pressure to impeach grows and I think that it’s justifiable, I think the evidence continues to come in and I believe that with the president now saying that he is willing to break the law to win reelection, that — that goes — that transcends partisanship, it transcends party lines and this is now about the rule of law in the United States of America."