Ohio delegation praises Mueller appointment
WASHINGTON — Ohio lawmakers from both parties Wednesday praised the former FBI director who will now oversee the Justice Department’s investigation of the Trump administration’s possible ties to the Russians, saying his intellect and experience make him highly qualified.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein announced that former FBI Director Robert Mueller will serve as special counsel to oversee the investigation.
“The issue of Russian meddling in our presidential election must be investigated fully, and former FBI Director Robert Mueller is well qualified to oversee this probe,” said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio.
“This was a necessary and long-overdue step by the Department of Justice that moves us closer to getting to the truth,” said Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Niles. “We need to remain vigilant and steadfast in the face of President Trump’s repeated attempts to obstruct justice. These serious allegations and the president’s extremely suspicious actions underscore why we cannot trust the Trump administration to conduct a credible investigation.”
Rep. Steve Stivers, R-Upper Arlington, called Mueller “a man of the highest integrity and intellect.”
And Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, called the news “long overdue.”“If there’s anyone who knows how to run a thorough investigation, it’s him,” he said. “Between his work and the work of the congressional investigations in both the House and Senate, the American people can rest assured that no stone will be left unturned. We need to follow the facts wherever they lead.”
“The investigation needs to be done right and it needs to be done swiftly, so the American people can get the answers they deserve, and we can move on with the business of creating jobs, renegotiating NAFTA and investing in our infrastructure,” he said.
The appointment occurred even as Democrats attempted to force the House to vote on a bill that would create an independent, 12-member commission to investigate the scandal.
Rep. Joyce Beatty, D-Jefferson Township, who co-sponsored the bill along with the three other Democrats in the state’s congressional delegation, suggested that if reports that Trump disclosed classified information to the Russians and tried to impede the criminal investigation of his former national security adviser are true, then the president has committed offenses worthy of impeachment.
“I think it is impeachable,” Beatty said in an interview. “I think if you try to stop an investigation that that is a problem for the president of the United States.”
“Americans are demanding answers and want the truth, and Robert Mueller is a start to getting to the bottom of any potential political, personal and financial ties between President Trump, his campaign and Russia,” she said.
In suggesting that Trump’s actions were impeachable, Beatty joined Democrats such as Rep. Al Green of Texas and Rep. Maxine Waters of California in holding that view. Green called for Trump’s impeachment on the House floor Wednesday.
But Beatty acknowledged that “we’re just not there at this point,” saying the matter must be thoroughly investigated first.
Still, she said, the drumbeat of news has cast a pall over the Capitol, Beatty said.
“We’re in the big leagues,” she said. “This is like a (plot) line from ‘Scandal.’”
Here’s what others had to say:
Rep. Bob Gibbs, R-Lakeville, said the appointment “represents a commitment to the truth, a commitment the Obama Administration lacked for 8 years.”
“While Mueller conducts his work, the various committees in Congress will carry out their duties of oversight of the executive branch,” Gibbs said. “I trust that these committees will be able to separate the facts from the hearsay and anonymous reports the media are running.”
Rep. Marcia Fudge, D-Cleveland, meanwhile, called it “the first step in getting to the bottom of this situation.”
“Now we need to move swiftly to appoint an independent commission,” she said.
Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, said he continues to support the two ongoing congressional investigations. He said Mueller “must, as a part of his broader work, also determine who is illegally leaking confidential information to the press. All Americans can agree that anyone who violates the law should be held fully accountable.”
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Urbana, said he would keep an “open mind” to the Justice Department’s decision to appoint a special counsel. But he said he wanted all of Comey’s memos, including those he wrote during the Obama administration. “Let’s get the full context of what took place under Comey’s watch for important decisions by President Obama as well,” he said. “That is the best way to serve the American people.”
Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Cincinnati, said he supports the federal investigation as well as those in Congress.
“Our job is to get the facts -- responsibly, dispassionately, thoughtfully, and thoroughly,” he said. “That will continue to be my focus.”
And Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Toledo, said the move was overdue.
“Though Mr. Mueller is well respected, ultimately our nation needs an independent commission that is free from politics and takes the Trump Administration out of the equation,” she said. “This Administration has proved time and time again they cannot give straight answers to the American people.”
This article first appeared on the Columbus Dispatch's website on May 17, 2017.