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Republican senator: No Trump investigation needed, because even George Washington wasn’t perfect

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) thinks possible crimes by Trump's businesses and inaugural committee require no investigation.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) arguing against broad Trump investigations on Sunday's Face the Nation.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) arguing against broad Trump investigations on Sunday's Face the Nation. CREDIT: CBS News screenshot.

A leading Senate Republican said Sunday that any potential investigation by the chamber of President Donald Trump should remain narrowly focused on Russian collusion. His reasoning? Even George Washington’s financial record-keeping might not have withstood too-close scrutiny.

Sen. Roy Blunt, chair of the Senate Republican Policy Committee, made the argument during a CBS television interview.  Asked on Face the Nation about the possibility of criminal wrongdoing in Trump’s business dealings and by his inaugural committee, the Missouri Republican suggested that the Senate should steer clear of such matters because investigations should not be overly broad.

“The problem will all these investigations… is not that they’re too narrow, but they get too broad,” Blunt explained. “I’m not sure that George Washington’s expense account could stand up against the entire force of the federal government, if you look at everything related to everything, as opposed to what was really supposed to be the charge here — which was collusion.”

Blunt, who serves on the Senate’s intelligence committee, then accused Trump critics of wanting to shift away from talking about his 2016 campaign’s alleged collusion with Russian President Vladimir Putin’s regime to other potential criminal wrongdoing — things that are “much more arguable than a pure finding of collusion would have been.”

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Blunt has not always felt this way.  In 1998, then-Rep. Blunt voted for four articles of impeachment against then-President Bill Clinton (D) — including two articles that did not even garner a majority in the Republican-controlled House. Each of the charges stemmed from Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr’s report on Clinton’s extramarital affair with an intern, even though Starr had been appointed to investigate a completely unrelated Arkansas land deal called Whitewater.

As is typically the case for outside investigators (and other prosecutors, for that matter), Mueller’s official mandate was to investigate both “any links and/or coordination bet ween the Russian government and individuals associated with the campaign of President Donald Trump;” and “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the investigation.”