Though Democrats had lowered expectations, FBI Director James Comey's testimony Monday his agency is indeed investigating possible ties between the Russian government and the Donald Trump presidential campaign will ensure the issue stays alive, former Rep. Pete Hoekstra told Newsmax TV.
"This story is going to be around a while whether Donald Trump wants it or not, whether the Republicans want it or not, but when he comes out and says there's an investigation, we are just into it a short time, my expectation is this thing can go on for another year to 18 months," Hoestra told Monday's "The Steve Malzberg Show."
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Hoekstra, who represented Michigan's Second District from 1993 to 2011, said he was surprised Comey revealed some of the information he told the intelligence panel, including the Russians wanted a weak NATO. Comey essentially implied Trump, too, wanted a weak NATO, Hoekstra told Newsmax.
"I wish the Republicans had come back and said, 'Wait a minute, Donald Trump wants a strong NATO,'" he said.
Comey's job is not to answer policy questions, said Hoekstra — a former GOP chair of the Intel committee — and that includes interpreting what Trump wants to do on a policy basis and how the Russians would respond to that.
Republicans also should have fought back when Comey said he had no information to support Trump's claims he was wiretapped at the direction of former President Barack Obama, Hoekstra said, considering the intelligence community's inability to control its own leaks.
"Director Comey, Mr. [NSA Chief Mike] Rogers, are you really sure that somebody or that nobody inside the intelligence community may have been monitoring the Trump campaign or the Trump White House?" Hoekstra said Republicans should have asked. "You can't keep secrets. How do you know you've got your internal organisms and internal systems under control?"
On other issues, Hoekstra said, he expects House Republicans to eventually get the 216 votes needed to pass its Obamacare repeal and replacement plan. If leadership cannot secure the needed support by Thursday's planned vote, it will postpone until it does, but "I think ultimately they will get there."
Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch likely will have to be confirmed by Senate Republicans invoking the "nuclear option" — meaning they will have to change the rules to a 51-vote majority rather than the currently needed 60. Democrats, who hold 48 seats, have vowed to filibuster the nomination.
"He will become a justice of the Supreme Court," Hoekstra said.
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