Democratic Sens. Dick Durbin and Dianne Feinstein are calling on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to resign if no special prosecutor is named to replace ousted FBI Director James Comey in the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US election.
“In an interview with NBC News, President (Donald) Trump admitted to firing FBI Director James Comey because of his investigation of the Trump campaign’s Russian connections,” Durbin, who is Senate Minority Whip, said in a statement. “That is dangerously close to obstruction of justice. This morning, the President tweeted a thinly veiled threat to Mr. Comey, which could be construed as threatening a witness in this investigation, which is another violation of federal law.”
Feinstein, a California Democrat, echoed the Illinois Senator.
“I also support Senator Durbin’s call for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to resign if he is unwilling to appoint a special counsel,” she said. “These investigations are far too important to risk disruption, delay or interference.”
Their comments come as concern grows over the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. While White House officials — including Vice President Mike Pence — initially said Trump’s decision to fire Comey came on the recommendation of Rosenstein, Trump offered a conflicting reason in an interview with NBC.
Trump said in that interview that he was thinking of “this Russia thing” when he decided to fire Comey, who had been overseeing the bureau’s investigation.
Now, Trump and his White House advisers argue that Comey’s removal could lengthen the Russia investigation. Deputy White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Comey’s dismissal would allow the probe to “come to its conclusion with integrity.”
As CNN reported Friday evening, people familiar with Rosenstein’s thinking say he doesn’t see a need at this point for a special prosecutor.
Democratic lawmakers — including New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker — have pushed for the appointment of a special prosecutor in order to ensure that there is no undue influence on the probe. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, they also argue, should also not be involved, given that he recused himself from investigations into the Trump campaign after it emerged he failed to disclose meetings with a Russian ambassador to Washington.