Dem rep: Firing Comey ‘more serious’ than wanting to fire Mueller

A Democratic lawmaker said Friday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpPentagon update to missile defense doctrine will explore space-base technologies, lasers to counter threats Giuliani: 'I never said there was no collusion' between the Trump campaign and Russia Former congressmen, RNC members appointed to Trump administration roles MORE's decision to fire former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyFISA shocker: DOJ official warned Steele dossier was connected to Clinton, might be biased Dems demand access to interpreters at Trump's meetings with Putin Kremlin official: ‘Stupid’ to think Trump is working for Russia MORE over the Russia investigation was a "much more serious episode" than a report from The New York Times claiming Trump had tried to fire special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE.

In an interview with CNN's "New Day," Rep. Jim HimesJames (Jim) Andres HimesOcasio-Cortez to host session for Dems on how to effectively use social media Pro-business Dem group hits record membership The Year Ahead: Tech braces for new scrutiny from Washington MORE (D-Conn.) said the news of Mueller's intended firing was "not surprising."

Responding to a question on whether trying to fire Mueller constitutes obstruction of justice, Himes said "no act was committed."

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"He didn't actually fire Mueller, so no act was committed. Now that takes us back to Jim Comey," Himes said. "That's, I think, a much more serious episode."

"What it does do is show intent," Himes added. "And it's not surprising. Look, this is not a subtle legal mind. I think the president sees a problem in front of him, and says 'I'm going to make this problem go away.' "

Comey was fired by Trump, who told NBC's Lester Holt that the Russia investigation was chief on his mind when he made the decision. Mueller has been investigating, among other things, whether Comey's firing amounted to obstruction of justice.

Many Democrats reacted with shock Thursday after The New York Times reported that Trump ordered White House lawyer Don McGahn to fire the special counsel in June, but that McGahn refused.

The president's critics have pointed to Mueller's firing as a "red line" that Trump couldn't cross without retribution.

Some Democrats, including Himes's fellow Connecticut lawmaker Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D), called on the Senate to take up bills aimed at protecting the special counsel from the Trump administration in the wake of the news.

"Stunning, deeply scary Trump move to fire Mueller raises need for Special Counsel protection bill immediately. Judiciary Committee must approve and Congress must pass," Blumenthal tweeted.