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Updated 12 hours ago
A senior Republican lawmaker on Friday agreed that a special prosecutor should investigate Russia's alleged interference with the 2016 presidential election.
Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., became one of the few Republican representatives to publicly state the need for an independent investigation into Russia's reported election meddling. This comes as Democrats have increasingly pushed for an investigation into Trump associates' ties to Russia.
In an appearance on HBO's “Real Time with Bill Maher,” Issa, a senior member of the House Judiciary Committee, first told the liberal show host that House and Senate intelligence committees would look into Russia's activities “within the special areas they oversee.”
That was not sufficient for Maher, who pressed Issa — formerly the head of the House Oversight Committee — on whether he would have “let that slide” had similar suspicions arose involving the Democrats. Maher has been a vocal critic of Trump.
Shortly after the election, a CIA assessment concluded that hackers with connections to the Russian government targeted the Democratic National Committee and leaked thousands of emails to WikiLeaks in an effort to sway the outcome in Donald Trump's favor. United States intelligence agencies have said they agree with the assessment, and a broad investigation is under way.
Russia has denied the accusations, and Trump — who has a history of praising Russian president Vladimir Putin — has vehemently denounced the findings and continued to blast the intelligence community.
“Let's go back to 2012,” Maher asked Issa on the show Friday. “Say, the Russians hacked only Mitt Romney and there was a lot of contact between the Obama administration and Russia. You'd have let that slide?”
“No,” Issa replied.
“So you're not gonna let this slide?” Maher asked.
“No,” Issa said.
Issa then replied that lawmakers would ask the House and Senate intelligence committees to investigate.
Maher protested, saying there needed to be a special prosecutor — and that now-Attorney General Jeff Sessions should recuse himself “the same way former Attorney General Loretta Lynch recused herself” from an investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails.
Issa seemed to agree with Maher that Sessions should not be involved in an investigation.
“You're right, you cannot have somebody, a friend of mine, Jeff Sessions, who was on the campaign and who was an appointee,” he said. “You're going to need to use the special prosecutor's statute and office.”
Issa added that it would also be inappropriate for Sessions to pass the investigation on to the deputy attorney general. He then explained, in a lengthy tangent, that Russia needed to be investigated “because they are bad people.”
“There may or may not be fault, but the American people who are beginning to understand that Putin murders his enemies — sometimes right in front of the Kremlin ... Now, we have to work with them. We don't have to trust them. And we need to investigate their activities and we need to do it because they are bad people.”
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