A few Republican lawmakers have joined Democrats to call for an independent investigation of the Trump campaign’s potential ties to Russia.
Following President Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, who was overseeing the ongoing FBI investigation into his campaign’s communication with Russian officials, these lawmakers are concerned that the existing probe will be too compromised.
Ultimately, a small group of Republican senators will influence whether an independent commission will proceed with the investigation, as the Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday. Moderate Republicans and Republicans less likely to reliably fall in line with party leadership — such as Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Ben Sasse (R-NE), and John McCain (R-AZ) — are the key senators to watch in the aftermath of the Comey firing.
Some of those senators spoke out against the firing on Tuesday night. Sen. McCain tweeted in favor of an independent investigation, while Sen. Flake said there was no “acceptable rationale” for firing Comey.
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) May 9, 2017
I've spent the last several hours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of Comey's firing. I just can't do it.
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) May 10, 2017
On the House side, Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) has indicated that he is in the process of reviewing legislation to start an independent investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia.
My staff and I are reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia. The second paragraph of this letter is bizarre. https://t.co/wXeDtVIQiP
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) May 9, 2017
Other Republicans tweeted that the decision to fire Comey made them uneasy, but stopped short of advocating for an independent commission. Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), for example, did not call for a new investigation but said that Comey’s “removal at this particular time will raise questions.”
My statement on FBI Director James Comey: pic.twitter.com/OTDZBy6VeR
— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) May 9, 2017
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) tweeted on Tuesday that “the American people need clarity and deserve an explanation for his immediate firing.”
— Sen. James Lankford (@SenatorLankford) May 9, 2017
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) said he was “troubled” by the timing of Comey’s termination and said it “confuses an already difficult investigation by the Committee.”
— Richard Burr (@SenatorBurr) May 9, 2017
However, most Republicans have stayed quiet on Comey’s termination and a few have openly supported Trump’s decision.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) dismissed criticism of the decision to fire Comey and tweeted that Democrats were turning him into a “liberal martyr.” Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) released a statement Tuesday night that said the decision to fire Comey will “restore confidence in the FBI.” Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) tweeted that a “fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, released a statement saying that any suggestion that Comey’s firing was an effort to stop the FBI investigation into Russia’s ties to the election is “misplaced.”
— Sen. Susan Collins (@SenatorCollins) May 10, 2017
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has dismissed calls for a special prosecutor, saying that starting a new investigation will “impede the current work being done.”