Hoyer sees consensus in Congress against firing Mueller
Lawmakers cautioned President Trump against firing special counsel Robert Mueller during an event on bipartisanship in Congress hosted by The Hill on Wednesday.
“There is a consensus in Congress on both sides that [it] would be a bad idea,” said House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md). “If Mueller was fired or removed … it would undermine some of the basic values of the United States of America.”
Hoyer said letting Mueller run his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election would be in Trump’s best interest. Hoyer said the public would trust Mueller’s findings, including any conclusion exonerating the president.
Hoyer was joined by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Rep. Nanette Barragán (D-Calif.) for the latest installment of The Hill’s Newsmaker Series. The event was hosted at the Newseum and sponsored by American University’s School of Public Affairs and the Kennedy Political Union.
Alexander also defended Mueller at the event. He said Trump has the legal authority to fire Mueller, but warned that doing so would “just make things worse.”
“The investigation needs to continue,” Alexander said, urging Trump to return his focus to policy.
“The president ought to continue to focus on opioids, Syria, North Korea and the other things he’s working on to help the country.”
The lawmakers’ comments come as the president has been publicly lashing out at Mueller after an FBI raid on his personal attorney, Michael Cohen. That raid was carried out in part after a referral from the special counsel’s team.
Cohen is a longtime ally of the president and the focus of a number of legal controversies. He has admitted to paying adult-film actress Stormy Daniels before the 2016 election to keep her from going public about allegations of an affair with Trump.
At The Hill event, the lawmakers discussed the polarized environment in Washington, highlighted by the debate over Mueller’s probe, with editor in chief Bob Cusack.
Hoyer said that as constituents have become more polarized, so too have their elected leaders.
Alexander also said he believed partisanship has gotten worse. He pointed to technology as a factor.
“What changed is this,” he said holding up his smart phone. “We live in an internet democracy and the Congress reflects the fractures in the country.”
Barragán, who represents a district where over 80 percent voted for Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton in 2016, said some of her constituents expect her to oppose all measures proposed by Republicans.
“I go to my district which is … super blue, and people say ‘fight everything,’ ” she explained.
“I said, ‘what good is that going to do?’ ”
Barragán said that bipartisanship is essential “especially when you’re in the minority.”
She said relationships are the key, so lawmakers can build bonds outside of their work.
“You see more of the partisan conversation happening … in the headlines,” Barragán said.
“But there are areas where there [is] bipartisanship. You stand by your issues and your values, but you find people with common ground to work on something.”