Ohio lawmakers from both parties Wednesday praised the former FBI director who will now oversee the Justice Department’s investigation of the Trump administration’s ties to the Russians, saying both his intellect and experience make him highly qualified for the job.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that former FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III to serve as special counsel to oversee the investigation shortly after 6 p.m.
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"The issue of Russian meddling in our presidential election must be investigated fully and former FBI director Robert Mueller is well qualified to oversee this probe,” said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, shortly after the announcement.
“This was a necessary and long-overdue step by the Department of Justice that moves us closer to getting to the truth,” said Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles. “We need to remain vigilant and steadfast in the face of President Trump’s repeated attempts to obstruct justice. These serious allegations and the President’s extremely suspicious actions underscore why we cannot trust the Trump Administration to conduct a credible investigation.”
U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan says investigation should go beyond Trump.
"If the Justice Department believes that a special counsel is the right way to go, I'll keep an open mind. More importantly, I want to make sure the appropriate committees in Congress have all the facts and full context of former FBI Director Comey's memo, and by context, I mean all of Mr. Comey's memos, including those he wrote when the Justice Department gave Cheryl Mills immunity during the Clinton email investigation, and the memo he wrote when Bill Clinton met with Loretta Lynch on the tarmac just three days before Secretary Clinton was interviewed by the FBI, and the memo he wrote when the Justice Department decided not to prosecute anyone in the IRS targeting scandal,” Jordan said.
"Let's get the full context of what took place under Comey's watch for important decisions by President Obama as well. That is the best way to serve the American people," he said.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, called the news "long overdue."
"The investigation needs to be done right and it needs to be done swiftly, so the American people can get the answers they deserve, and we can move on with the business of creating jobs, renegotiating NAFTA, and investing in our infrastructure," he said.
The developments happened even as Democrats attempted to force the House to vote on a bill that would create an independent, 12-member commission to investigate the scandal.
Columbus-area Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Jefferson Township, who along with the other three Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation co-sponsored that bill, suggested that if reports that President Donald Trump disclosed classified information to the Russians and tried to impede the criminal investigation of his former National Security Adviser were true, then they were offenses worthy of impeachment.
“I think it is impeachable,” said Beatty in an interview late Wednesday. “I think if you try to stop an investigation that that is a problem for the president of the United States.
She called the news of Mueller’s appointment as special counsel “a positive development.”
“Americans are demanding answers and want the truth, and Robert Mueller is a start to getting to the bottom of any potential political, personal and financial ties between President Trump, his campaign and Russia,” she said.
In suggesting that Trump’s actions were impeachable, Beatty, D-Jefferson Township, joined Democrats such as Rep. Al Green, D-Texas and Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif. Green called for Trump’s impeachment on the House floor Wednesday.
But Beatty said she believed that certain steps had to occur before Congress could begin the impeachment process. She admitted “we’re just not there at this point,” and said the charges needed to be more thoroughly investigated first.
Still, she said, the reports had cast a pall over the Capitol.
“We’re in the big leagues,” she said. “This is like a (plot) line from (the TV show) Scandal.”
Earlier in the day, Ohio Republicans suggested the matter was best investigated by Congress.
“I think the Constitution says that that’s the Congress’ duty and Congress should be assertive and aggressive,” said Rep. Warren Davidson, R-Troy. “If at the end of their investigation that that’s their conclusion that there’s a crime that has been committed or something else, then that’s the process, and I think we need to let due process take its course.”
He said he believed Trump could be trusted with intelligence. “He’s the president,” he said. “The people of the United States of America trusted him with that responsibility and we’ll see how things move forward.”