U.S. Rep. Mike Coffman issued one of the most direct statements so far from a Republican elected official on the ongoing investigation into the Trump administration’s connections to Russia, the firing of FBI Director James Comey and the link between the two.
“We need the memos, Comey should testify and I still believe that a special prosecutor should be named,” Coffman said on Twitter Tuesday night.
This statement came a few hours after Coffman said that Russia is not our friend and the president should “exercise more discipline” about what he shares.
What are the memos? Comey reportedly wrote up memos after conversations with President Donald Trump to create a paper trail should he need it. And people who have seen these memos described them to reporters on Tuesday. And according to these sources, one of the memos said Trump asked Comey to drop an investigation into connections between Russia and Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security advisor.
“I hope you can let this go,” Trump reportedly told Comey.
So yeah, some folks would like to see these memos. U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz, the Utah Republican who heads the House Oversight Committee, said late Tuesday his committee was prepared to use its subpoena power to get the memos. Politico said the report on the Comey memos seems to represent a breaking point for many House Republicans and compared the rush of statements to the ones that met the release of the “Access Hollywood” tape. (Of course, that tape turned out to be less consequential than it seemed at the time.)
And on Monday, the Washington Post reported that Trump shared particularly sensitive classified information with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister. Coffman’s “exercise more discipline” comment was directed at that decision. It was reported Tuesday that the sensitive intelligence information came from Israel. Sharing the information with Russia raises concerns that it could be shared with Iran and about the safety of the person who provided the intelligence to Israel.
Republican Sen. Cory Gardner told the Denver Post he needs more information, though he also called the reports “a concern.”
“There have been conflicting reports out of the White House,” Gardner said in response to a question about the Washington Post’s report that Trump shared sensitive information. “I think if they were reported accurately, it’s a concern. …We simply have to have more information.”
Rep. Doug Lamborn of Colorado Springs is not the kind of politician usually being chased by reporters for a contrarian view of the administration, and a statement posted to his Facebook page is partially supportive. But he did say that Trump needs to come clean.
“I place more trust in the account of Oval Office meetings with the National Security Advisor than I do with unnamed sources,” Lamborn said. “(National Security Advisor Lt. Gen. H.R.) McMaster has stated repeatedly and unequivocally that the President behaved in a manner that was ‘wholly appropriate.’ That said, I believe that it is important for the President to put a stop to the swirling media narratives around his actions by sharing the complete truth with the nation. By doing so, he can help return the discussion to solving problems and working hard on behalf of the American people.”
Rep. Ken Buck, a Republican from Weld County, has not issued a statement yet. We’ll update this post if and when he does. Same for Rep. Scott Tipton, who represents the Western Slope.
Democratic members of Colorado’s congressional delegation continue to call for an independent investigation.
Here’s Rep. Ed Perlmutter of Arvada, also a candidate for governor, on the Comey memo:
“If true, President Trump’s own statement shows he tried to directly influence the Justice Department and FBI investigation into his ties to Russia,” he said. “This is outrageous. People need to know what is going on and the only way to do that is with an independent investigation without interference or influence from President Trump or his administration.”
And Perlmutter on the sharing of sensitive information:
“President Trump and his surrogates’ cozy relationship with Russian officials has always been concerning but his alleged sharing of sensitive and classified information with Russian officials is alarming and constitutes a serious national security risk. The Trump Administration’s erratic and dysfunctional nature plus a lack of transparency when it comes to their Russian ties is jeopardizing our security and democracy. Now more than ever, we need an independent investigation.”
There’s a theme there.
Rep. Diana DeGette of Denver sounded it too.
Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet joined the calls for Comey to testify and any memos, transcripts and tapes of his conversation with the president to be released. He called the reports that Trump asked Comey to end the investigation into Flynn “deeply disturbing.”
And Rep. Jared Polis of Boulder tweeted a short, “Two words: independent investigation.”
This story will be updated as we see new statements.