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

A Democratic lawmaker said Friday that President TrumpDonald John TrumpDavid Axelrod after Ginsburg cancer treatment: Supreme Court vacancy could 'tear this country apart' EU says it will 'respond in kind' if US slaps tariffs on France Ginsburg again leaves Supreme Court with an uncertain future MORE's decision to fire former FBI Director James ComeyJames Brien ComeyThe road not taken: Another FBI failure involving the Clintons surfaces Sarah Huckabee Sanders becomes Fox News contributor 3 real problems Republicans need to address to win in 2020 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) Swan MuellerMueller report fades from political conversation Trump calls for probe of Obama book deal Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony MORE.

In an interview with CNN's "New Day," Rep. Jim HimesJames (Jim) Andres HimesRising star Ratcliffe faces battle to become Trump's intel chief Democrats express private disappointment with Mueller testimony Live coverage: Mueller testifies before Congress 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.