Former Joint Chiefs Chairman says Trump White House "self-generating" crises

A former top official in the Bush and Obama administrations says that while the selection of Robert Mueller to act as a special counsel into the investigation of Michael Flynn and Russian meddling is "terrific," President Trump's White House has a habit of "self-generating crises."

Retired Admiral Mike Mullen, who served as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 2007 to 2011,  spoke to "CBS This Morning" on Thursday. He said Mueller is highly regarded and has clear independence in order to get to the bottom of the investigation.

"It's hard to know with all of the discussion on both sides of this issue that it will happen, let's say, quickly, but I've got a lot of faith in him and his background that he'll be able to do that," said Mullen.

As Mr. Trump issued a series of tweets Thursday morning reacting to the news of Mueller's appointment to the probe by calling it the "single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history," Mullen says the discussion has become "so polarized" as one issue after another keeps coming out.

"I don't have a lot of problems with the president and the administration disrupting D.C. because I think it has not  functioned well for a long time, but there has to be a process, there has to be a way to get through the issues in some reasonable way," said Mullen.

Mullen added, "clearly there is one issue after another, and to the degree the administration feels it's under siege, they keep generating the crises."

The White House issued a statement late Wednesday on behalf of Mr. Trump, saying "As I have stated many times, a thorough investigation will confirm what we already know -- there was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity." 

"I look forward to this matter concluding quickly. In the meantime, I will never stop fighting for the people and the issues that matter most to the future of our country," the statement concluded.

When pressed on the issue of Mr. Trump's revealing classified information to Russian officials at the White House last week, Mullen agreed that while the president "has the right to do that," the White House needs to be "very careful" about releasing information "instantly."

Mullen adds that while the White House has "focused tremendously on leaks," he finds that "the harder you chase leaks the more leaks there will be."

"If you continue to press hard on the intelligence community, the worry is the intelligence community may pull back on what they share with the president."

  • Emily Tillett

    Emily Tillett is a politics reporter and video editor for CBS News Digital