Ken Starr, the former independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation, said on Sunday the indictment of 13 Russians and three Russian companies for allegedly interfering in the 2016 presidential election is a step in the right direction for special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation.
“We’re now aiming our guns, so to speak, where they should be aimed. I think we should stop pointing fingers at one another in this country and realize who the real enemy is … These were spies,” Starr told Maria Bartiromo on “Sunday Morning Futures.” “It was an effort to pit us against one another and [Russian President] Vladimir Putin has succeeded,” he added.
A federal grand jury indicted the 13, who are accused of setting a “strategic goal to sow discord in the U.S. political system, including the 2016 presidential election,” and the companies on Friday in the first charges filed against Russian nationals related to Mueller’s investigation. However, the Justice Department said the indictment does not allege any interference impacted the results of the presidential race.
“There is no allegation in this indictment that any American was a knowing participant in this illegal activity,” Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the overseer of the Mueller probe, said at a press conference last Friday. “There is no allegation in the indictment that the charged conduct altered the outcome of the 2016 election.”
Starr said the reason there is a focus on President Trump is due to the “basis of the investigation,” or reports filed by Christopher Steele, a former British intelligence officer, who was hired by Washington, D.C.-based research firm Fusion GPS—which has been linked to the Clintons and conservative website Washington Free Beacon—to investigate Trump’s alleged connections with Russia. The allegations in Steele’s dossier have not been verified.
The former Whitewater independent counsel said issues with transparency of senior officials in the U.S. government with the FISA court also have been concerning.
“The FISA court was developed and created to be a safeguard to protect American liberty against executive branch excess,” Starr said. “But there’s an assumption there. That is the government—the Justice Department, or the FBI or whomever—is being honest and transparent. And there was a real breakdown there.”
However, Starr doesn’t believe there needs to be a second special counsel appointed to investigate the FBI and Justice Department, despite calls by some to do so.
“I totally disagree with that,” he said. “Let Mueller do his job.”