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Republican Rep. Kinzinger praises special prosecutor appointment

Republican U.S. Rep. Adam Kinzinger[1] and Illinois Democrats[2] praised former FBI[3] chief Robert Mueller[4] being named special counsel to oversee the federal probe into potential coordination between the Trump[5] campaign and Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. Early Wednesday, Kinzinger was alone among Illinois Republicans[6] in Congress[7] in being open to a special prosecutor.

“Bob Mueller is a well-respected and trusted veteran of the FBI. The American people deserve answers, transparency, and most importantly, the truth,” Kinzinger said in a statement. “This special counsel appointment is a step in the right direction on getting answers on the many questions we have with Russian meddling in our election and our democracy.”

Kinzinger, appearing on morning news shows, said it was time to “look at” an independent commission or special prosecutor after reports that Trump asked then-FBI Director James Comey[8] to halt a probe of then-White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn[9]. The comment marked a change of heart for the fourth-term lawmaker from Channahon, who in mid-February said an independent commission to probe possible Trump campaign ties to Russia was “overkill.” He said then the Senate Intelligence Committee should examine the matter.

Kinzinger is a pilot with the Air National Guard and a military hawk who has been critical of Trump’s overtures to Russia. He represents exurban parts of the Chicago area that make up the 16th Congressional District, which favored Trump in November. Meanwhile, Illinois Democrats had joined the national chorus in calling for a special prosecutor and praised the move Wednesday.

“Now Congress and the American people will have the opportunity to receive detailed information on the facts of what took place during last year’s election cycle,” U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush[10] of Chicago said in a statement. “After the firing of the former FBI Director James Comey, there was an outcry from myself, the Democratic Illinois delegation and many more calling for a special counsel.”

Flynn briefly served the Trump White House before he was forced to resign after failing to disclose contacts with Russia’s ambassador to the U.S. before Trump took office. Trump fired Comey last week. Earlier Wednesday, Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam[11] said in a statement that Comey should testify before Congress and turn over the memo that reportedly describes his meeting with Trump in which the president reportedly told the FBI chief to halt the bureau’s Flynn probe.

“We need to see these documents as soon as possible and former Director Comey needs to testify before Congress as soon as possible,” said Roskam of Wheaton. “We must get to the bottom of this no matter where it leads.”

After Mueller was appointed, he called it a “welcome development.”

“Former FBI Director Mueller is a man of the utmost integrity. I have complete confidence in his ability to conduct a thorough investigation, wherever the facts may lead,” Roskam said in a statement. Roskam has faced increasing pressure from Democrats in his district over health care and Trump, and on Wednesday two of his potential 2018 opponents released statements asking him to push for an independent commission to examine the Russian controversies swirling around the White House. Republican U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren[12] of Plano said before Mueller was appointed: “I am following the situation closely. I continue to support the independent investigative work of the congressional committees in their ongoing efforts to establish the relevant facts involved here.”

Kinzinger also was asked on CNN about news reports saying Putin[13] had denied that Trump shared intelligence. Putin has said he would give Congress more information about Trump’s conversation with the visiting Russians.

“I don’t talk to murderous dictators like Vladimir Putin,” Kinzinger replied.

He also called comparisons between the Trump administration controversies and the Watergate scandal that led Richard Nixon to resign “kind of hyperbole.”

“Every new story that comes out about Donald Trump, some on the left make this an 11 on a 10 scale and you hit max freakout immediately,” Kinzinger said on CNN. “And some on the right are unwilling to accept that there could be anything at all going on. All we need is answers.”

Twitter @KatherineSkiba

References

  1. ^ Adam Kinzinger (www.chicagotribune.com)
  2. ^ Democratic Party (www.chicagotribune.com)
  3. ^ FBI (www.chicagotribune.com)
  4. ^ Robert Mueller (www.chicagotribune.com)
  5. ^ Donald Trump (www.chicagotribune.com)
  6. ^ Republican Party (www.chicagotribune.com)
  7. ^ U.S. Congress (www.chicagotribune.com)
  8. ^ James Comey (www.chicagotribune.com)
  9. ^ Michael Flynn (www.chicagotribune.com)
  10. ^ Bobby Rush (www.chicagotribune.com)
  11. ^ Peter Roskam (www.chicagotribune.com)
  12. ^ Randy Hultgren (www.chicagotribune.com)
  13. ^ Vladimir Putin (www.chicagotribune.com)
  14. ^

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