GOP senators: Trump needs to show restraint in Russia probe


Associated Press

WASHINGTON

Two Republican senators said Sunday that President Donald Trump would be wise to keep a public silence on an independent investigation into his 2016 campaign’s contacts with Russia in the wake of news reports that he sought to fire the special counsel.

The senators, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Susan Collins of Maine, also urged special counsel Robert Mueller to review whether Trump tried to fire him last June, an accusation the president has labeled “fake news.”

“Mueller is the best person to look at it,” said Graham, describing the allegation as grave if proved true. “I’m sure that there will be an investigation around whether or not President Trump did try to fire Mr. Mueller.”

Graham, co-sponsor of legislation that would protect Mueller from being fired without a legal basis, said he would be “glad to pass it tomorrow.” But he insisted that Mueller’s job appeared to be in no immediate danger, pointing to the political costs if Trump did remove him.

“It’s pretty clear to me that everybody in the White House knows it would be the end of President Trump’s presidency if he fired Mr. Mueller,” he said.

Collins said it would certainly “not hurt” for Congress to approve added protections for Mueller given the recent media reports. But she didn’t offer a timeline.

“I think the president would be best served by never discussing the investigation, ever, whether in tweets, except in private conversations with his attorney,” she said.

The New York Times and other outlets reported that Trump backed off his attempt to fire Mueller last June only after White House lawyer Don McGahn refused to relay his directive to the Justice Department and threatened to quit if Trump pressed the issue.

According to the reports, Trump argued that Mueller could not be fair because of a dispute over golf club fees that he said Mueller owed at a Trump golf club in Sterling, Virginia. The president also believed Mueller had a conflict of interest because he worked for the same law firm that was representing Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, Jared Kushner.

On Sunday, lawmakers praised Mueller’s impartiality and expressed confidence that he would be able to conduct a full, wide-ranging investigation.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, Trump urged his followers to inform rapper Jay-Z that “because of my policies,” unemployment among black Americans is at the “LOWEST RATE EVER RECORDED!”

The president’s tweet appears to be in response to a CNN interview in which the rapper said the president’s vulgar comments about African countries and Haiti were “disappointing” and “hurtful.”

Jay-Z said on the debut episode of “The Van Jones Show” on Saturday that lower unemployment among blacks doesn’t make up for the president’s attitude. Jay-Z says, “It’s not about money at the end of the day,” and it “doesn’t equate to happiness.”

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