“If you criminalize legal advice, which is basically what they're going to do, then it has a terribly chilling effect on any kind of advice and counsel that the president might receive,” McCain said during an interview on CBS’s “Early Show.”
The former GOP presidential nominee and POW supported Obama’s decision to end the use of waterboarding and other “enhanced interrogation” techniques but insisted that those who gave legal advice should not be prosecuted because they were “sworn to do their duty to the best of their ability.”
“Look, I didn't agree, as you said, with the techniques — and I'd be glad to continue that debate with people. But to criminalize their legal counsel, unless you can prove that they intentionally violated existing laws or ethics, then this is going to turn into a witch hunt,” he said.
McCain compared the potential prosecutions with the actions of “banana republics” that “prosecute people for actions they didn't agree with under previous administrations.”
“To go back on a witch hunt that could last for a year or so, frankly, is going to be bad for the country, bad for future presidents — precedents that may be set by this, and certainly nonproductive in trying to pursue the challenges we face,” he said.