Republican senators are fighting back against President Donald Trump’s Wednesday morning tweet asking that Attorney General Jeff Sessions end the special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said Sessions doesn’t have the authority to end the probe but added the “President is entitled to speak his mind.”
“I think that’s out of Jeff Sessions’ hands,” he said. “He’s recused himself from the Russian investigation so he really doesn’t have any power to stop the Manafort prosecution. It’s in court, the jury’s been selected and it’s going forward.”
Trump on Wednesday said Sessions should end Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference, arguing that the ongoing probe is hurting the United States.
Although the President has repeatedly criticized the investigation and Sessions’ decision to recuse himself from overseeing it, Trump’s tweet that his attorney general “should stop” the probe is notable and raises fresh questions about whether the President is attempting to obstruct justice.
“This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!” the President tweeted.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee, called Trump’s tweet “highly inappropriate and intemperate.”
“Jeff Sessions doesn’t have the authority to fire Mueller and has recused himself, appropriately so,” she said. “I do not think there is any chance at all that Mr. Muller is going to be fired. And it would be far better if the President refrained from commenting and for Mr. Muller to continue his investigation, which so far already has 30 indictments including Russian nationalists.”
Although CNN has reported that several members of Mueller’s team have donated to Democrats, Russia’s interference in the 2016 election has also been the subject of several Republican-led congressional inquiries.
Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah also weighed in, saying Sessions can’t end the investigation.
“I don’t think Sessions has the authority to do that,” he said. “I don’t fully get what he’s trying to do.”
He also added he doesn’t think ending the probe is a “wise thing to do.”
GOP Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana, who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, told reporters the investigation should be completed.
“I don’t think the Mueller probe ought to be ended,” he said. “I think it ought to be completed.”
The President has escalated his attacks on the Mueller probe in recent days, and his tweet on Wednesday comes on the second day of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s trial, the first case Mueller’s team has taken before a jury. Manafort is facing charges of bank fraud and tax evasion, though his alleged crimes occurred before he was involved with the Trump campaign.
By Daniella Diaz, CNN