President Donald Trump hasn't offered an "olive branch" when it comes to working on the division in the country, Sen. Dick Durbin said Monday, while joining other Democrats' call for an independent probe into Russian interference in the presidential election.
"When it comes to executive orders, there's no olive branch, it's confrontation," the Illinois Democrat told MSNBC's "Morning Joe" program. "He had to dismiss his own [acting] attorney general. He had three federal courts stop his executive order on the Muslim ban, and then he had to accept the resignation of his national security adviser. It's been a tumultuous and a divisive time."
Trump's own battles are also troubling, said Durbin, as he has questioned the integrity of the judiciary, including making references to "so-called judges and judges you can't trust because of their ethnic backgrounds, and then he goes in and goes after the media, this is a tenuous moment where we'll be tested on constitutional issues."
Meanwhile, Durbin said he does think a special prosecutor or independent commission is needed to study the growing questions over whether Trump's campaign associates were in contact with Russia, rather than keeping congressional intelligence committees in charge of the probe.
"I sat on the Intelligence Committee for four years," said Durbin. "You couldn't find a sign on the door. The meetings were secret. We need an independent and transparent investigation."
The chosen venue, continued Durbin, "guarantees the American people will not know what is said and ultimately, months from now, maybe years from now, they will produce a classified report available to the American people if the approval is gained from the White House."
He thinks Republicans do not want an independent probe because "they think it might be embarrassing."
"As one said off the record, 'we are supposed to investigate the Affordable Care Act, not other Republicans,'" said Durbin.
"When I go overseas to Poland and sit down with the Polish leader, he says, 'if you won't investigate the Russian invasion into your election, what faith do we have under Article V that you would come to our aid?'"
In the United States' case, it's not about troops, but a cyber war and a propaganda war, and that's why Democrats are taking the matter seriously, Durbin said.
"This is a fact verified by every major intelligence agency," said Durbin. "The Russians invaded our sovereignty."
Democrats, though, are fighting back on an unprecedented scale, the senator said.
"I have never seen it before and I have been at this business for a while," said Durbin. "There is an energy and spontaneity that I have never seen before. People are showing up in towns, Illinois has a meeting based on an internet solicitation . . . 250 people showed up.
"They said we are going to slate a democratic slate of candidates for a township and we are going to work the doors, work the phones, get people registered. That spontaneity is at the base of our party and the Nov. 8 election brought it to life."
However, the weekend election to head the Democratic National Committee reflected residuals from the presidential campaign, said Durbin.
"A lot of Bernie [Sanders'] supporters will always believe the mainstream Democratic Party is suspect by the way it raises money," said Durbin. "I can tell you, when it comes to the Senate, with few exceptions so far, we have been able to bridge the gaps.
"We have the Democrats working together in a positive way. I feel very positive about what's going to happen here. Tom Perez, a talented person, won in a close contest. Keith Ellison could not been more gracious."
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