Members of Colorado’s congressional delegation backed Wednesday’s announcement that former FBI Director Robert Mueller had been named special counsel for the federal investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.
Lawmakers praised the selection of Mueller, a former prosecutor who ran the FBI for 12 years, as a sound choice, even as some Democrats said they still believe an independent commission should be established to look into allegations of Russian involvement with associates of President Donald Trump.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appointed Mueller to the position, capping a tumultuous sequence of events that began last week when Trump fired FBI Direct James Comey.
“I fully support the decision to appoint former FBI Director Robert Mueller to oversee the ongoing investigation into Russia,” said Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner in a statement. “We need to get all the facts, and Mueller is the type of person that is respected and trusted by both Republicans and Democrats and will put country over politics.”
His Democratic colleague, U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, noted that he’s been calling for an independent prosecutor for more than two months and has co-sponsored legislation to create an independent, nonpartisan commission to investigate Russian activity in last year’s election.
“The American people deserve the truth,” Bennet said in a statement. “The questions associated with this investigation and the firing of Director Comey are fundamental to our national security and our democracy. This is a critical first step, but I still believe we need an independent commission.”
“Congress also must conduct its oversight role in line with its constitutional responsibilities, and we urge the majority to step up and push for a bipartisan and rigorous process in both the House and the Senate to accomplish that goal,” Bennet added.
U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette, chief deputy whip for the minority Democrats in the House, said Mueller’s appointment should help restore public confidence after what her office termed “one shocking revelation after another” about the Trump administration and Russian officials.
“With this step, the FBI is on a path to restoring public confidence in our democratic processes and institutions,” DeGette said. “We don’t yet know where this path may lead, but better to pursue bravely it than to let lingering questions and jarring daily developments further undermine our country.”
DeGette asked Rosenstein a week ago to create a special counsel to oversee the investigation, she pointed out, writing in a letter to the Justice Department official, “The American people deserve to receive a full accounting of Russian activities in this area.”
She’s also supporting the creation of an independent commission to investigate the matters and ripped House Republicans for ignoring Democratic-sponsored legislation that would do just that. Along with other Democrats, DeGette on Wednesday signed what’s known as a discharge petition calling on House officials to consider the bill.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Jared Polis hailed the Mueller appointment but said it wasn’t enough, renewing his call for an independent commission.
“Good first step,” he tweeted on Wednesday afternoon, “but we still need an independent, nonpartisan commission.”
Republican U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton lauded the news.
“I have been fully supportive of the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election, and I trust that the Department of Justice’s decision to appoint a special counsel is in the best interest of the American people,” he said in a statement.
Republican U.S. Rep. Ken Buck, a former prosecutor, shrugged at the development while noting that House and Senate committees are conducting their own probes into the Kremlin’s meddling.
“If the Executive Branch feels the need to appoint a special prosecutor to maintain the integrity of its investigation into Russian interference in our election, it is their prerogative,” Buck said in a statement. “Congress will continue its own investigation into the matter.”
In a statement posted to social media, Republican U.S. Rep. Doug Lamborn had high praise for Mueller and expressed optimism that the respected prosecutor will get to the bottom of the Russian allegations.
“I am pleased that the Trump Administration has appointed an honorable, respected, and capable man like former FBI Director Robert Mueller as Special Counsel,” Lamborn said. “A Marine Corps veteran of the Vietnam War, Director Mueller also (led) the FBI through the aftermath of the 9/11 attack, an event that occurred on only his sixth day on the job. He was so respected during his tenure, President Obama asked Congress to allow Mr. Mueller to stay in office for an additional two years beyond the normal 10-year term limit. I know that Director Mueller will work hard to find the full and compete truth surrounding the allegations of Russian involvement in the 2016 election.”
U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman, the lone Republican in Colorado’s delegation to call for the appointment of a special counsel before one was appointed, gave the move a thumbs-up.
“Smart move to appoint a former FBI director as a special counsel to lead the FBI Russian probe,” he said in a statement posted to Twitter. “I hope it will stop the partisan political circus on Capitol Hill and get down to the bottom of a growing list of allegations.”
U.S. Rep. Ed Perlmutter, a Democratic candidate for governor in next year’s election, applauded the announcement, adding that it’s something he’s been encouraging for some time.
“After calling for an independent investigation for months, I am pleased to see the DOJ appoint former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel,” Perlmutter said in a statement. “This is a step in the right direction to ensure a thorough and independent investigation.”
UPDATE: This story has been updated to include U.S. Rep. Ken Buck’s comment on Mueller’s appointment as special prosecutor.