In a sign that the GOP obstruction of justice effort is falling apart, a growing rift among House Republicans has spilled into the public airwaves. On Sunday, four Republican members of the House Intelligence Committee dissented Sunday from President Trump’s view that corruption has poisoned the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Trump and House Republicans released a controversial memo on Friday, in an attempt to derail the special counsel’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. But their effort quickly backfired as the infamous memo inadvertently made the Russia investigation even stronger. Now the same Republicans who released the memo are trying to distance themselves from it.
The four Republican members of the panel dismissed the idea pushed by Trump and other Republicans that a controversial memo criticizing how the FBI handled elements of its Russia probe undermines the investigation led by Robert Mueller into possible coordination between Trump associates and the Kremlin.
Appearing on CBS’s ‘Face The Nation,’ Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), who also chairs the House Oversight Committee, said Trump should not fire Rosenstein and rejected the idea that the document has bearing on the investigation.
“I actually don’t think it has any impact on the Russia probe,” Gowdy, who helped draft the memo, said.
Rep. Chris Stewart (R-Utah) said the two are “very separate” issues.
“I think it would be a mistake for anyone to suggest the special counsel should not continue his work,” Stewart told Fox News Sunday, The Washington Post reports. “This memo, frankly, has nothing at all to do with the special counsel.”
Gowdy and Stewart — along with Reps. Will Hurd (R-Texas) and Brad Wenstrup (R-Ohio) — represented the Intelligence Committee on the Sunday talk shows.
Their comments came as Democrats prepared to push for a committee vote Monday night on releasing their rebuttal to the GOP memo. Republicans complained that the document might contain too much classified information to release, and even if the motion succeeds, Trump has five days to block it.
It remained unclear Sunday whether Trump would use the document as a pretext to fire senior Justice Department officials, a decision that could trigger a constitutional crisis. Trump had advocated the memo’s release, telling advisers it could help him in part by undercutting Mueller’s investigation and opening the door to firings.
Former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos that he would urge Trump not to fire Rosenstein.
“I would tell the president, if I was in his presence, ‘Do not fire him [Rosenstein],” he said. Scaramucci also said he hopes Trump decides not to testify before Mueller in the probe of Russian interference in the 2016 election, fearing he may get caught in a lie.
“I actually don’t want him to testify because as a lawyer, I don’t want him caught in a ‘gotcha’ moment where someone accuses him of lying . . . I would say, ‘Sir, there’s no reason to testify. Let the thing unfold the way it is,’” Scaramucci said, according to The Post.