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

A Democratic lawmaker said Friday that President TrumpDonald TrumpHead of firms that pushed 'Italygate' theory falsely claimed VA mansion was her home: report Centrists gain foothold in infrastructure talks; cyber attacks at center of Biden-Putin meeting VA moving to cover gender affirmation surgery through department health care MORE's decision to fire former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyMystery surrounds Justice's pledge on journalist records NYT publisher: DOJ phone records seizure a 'dangerous incursion' on press freedom Trump DOJ seized phone records of New York Times reporters 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 (Bob) MuellerSenate Democrats urge Garland not to fight court order to release Trump obstruction memo Why a special counsel is guaranteed if Biden chooses Yates, Cuomo or Jones as AG Barr taps attorney investigating Russia probe origins as special counsel MORE.

In an interview with CNN's "New Day," Rep. Jim HimesJames (Jim) Andres HimesPelosi picks Democrats for special panel tackling inequality House panel spars over GameStop frenzy, trading apps COVID-19 could complicate Pelosi's path to Speaker next year 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.