Senantor Marco Rubio and other Republican lawmakers pushed back against the firing of FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe and efforts by President Donald Trump and his lawyer to link it to the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
McCabe shouldn’t have been fired days before he was due to retire in an episode that risks demoralizing and “smearing” agents, the Florida senator said.
“He should have been allowed to finish through the weekend,” Rubio said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press” about Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ move late Friday to fire the Federal Bureau of Investigations veteran before an inspector general’s report was issued, two days before he was set to retire at age 50 after more than two decades with the bureau. “I would’ve certainly done it differently.”
Asked whether he’s concerned about the damage done to the FBI’s reputation, Rubio said there are ways to hold people accountable but “we need to be very careful about taking these very important entities and smearing everybody in them with a broad stroke.”
John Dowd, Trump’s personal lawyer, said Saturday that Mueller’s investigation should be shut down after McCabe’s firing. Trump has been busy on Twitter this weekend questioning the fairness of the probe and the truthfulness of McCabe and former FBI Director James Comey, whom he accused of having lied under oath and tagged with the nickname, “lying James Comey.”
Whatever McCabe did has nothing to do with Mueller’s investigation, and there’s no cause to even consider firing the special counsel, Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said. Graham repeated a previous comment that removing Mueller would be the beginning of the end of Trump’s presidency.
“He is following the evidence where it takes him, and I think it’s very important he be allowed to do his job without interference,” Graham said of Mueller on CNN’s “State of the Union” program. “There are many Republicans who share my view.”
Republican Senator James Lankford of Oklahoma, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said he doesn’t see Trump firing Mueller, even as he loses patience with the long-running probe.
“The clearest thing that I can explain from that is the president’s exceptionally frustrated, that he wants to be able to see this investigation come to an end,” Lankford said on ABC’s “This Week.”
Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican from Arizona and a frequent critic of Trump, said he expects his colleagues would push back against the president removing Mueller.
“People see that as a massive red line that can’t be crossed,” Flake said on CNN. “I hope that the pushback is now to keep the president from going there.”
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