President Donald Trump's White House could afford to improve its discipline when it comes to the message it presents, former Secretary of State James Baker, who has also served as late President Ronald Reagan's chief of staff, said Wednesday.
"On the other hand, I will remind you that Ronald Reagan, for whom I worked for eight years, told the bureaucrats at one point when they told him 'don't say, Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall, you'll create a terrible problem.'" Baker told MSNBC's "Andrea Mitchell Reports." "He said 'listen, I'm president and that's what I'm going to say' and he wrote it back in the speech. That turned out all right."
However, Baker conceded he found it "humorous" when Trump referred to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as "Little Rocket Man" on Twitter, but it was the "wrong thing to do" when Trump announced he was firing his Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in a tweet.
"To be effective as secretary of state, you have to have the full support, you have to be seen with the president, you're in his lane, in his turf," Baker said. "A secretary of state has to be supportive, protective and defended by the president if he's going to be effective. I thought that firing Rex Tillerson that way was absolutely the wrong thing to do."
Baker also talked about former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton, who has been tagged as Trump's next national security adviser.
"John is an extraordinary bright guy," Baker said. "I gave him his first job, I think, in government in the first Reagan term when I suggested that he find a spot in the White House counsel's office. He was very effective for us."
Bolton was effective under President George H.W. Bush's administration, but controversial in President George W. Bush's, noted Baker.
It is also important Trump keep a chief of staff, although reports have said he has commented he does not need one.
"I think it's pretty darn important because the White House is big, the administration is big," Baker said. "Running an administration is not a lot different than running a political campaign for president . . . I think John Kelly's done a remarkable job in bringing some order and discipline to the White House."
He also said he thinks special counsel Robert Mueller should be able to finish his investigation into Russian meddling, and if Trump fires him, it would have an adverse effect.
"Let him finish his investigation and conclude his report," Baker said. "Now having said that, I agree with some of the things that I see coming out of the White House unattributed that many of those prosecutors are hard-line opponents of some of the things that I have believed in as a conservative Republican. But I don't think you fire the special prosecutor. You let him finish his job, and because that's way our system works. We are, after all, a country of laws."
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