Rep. Val Demings has vowed to protect the integrity of the special investigation of President Donald Trump.
Demings, an African-American Democrat from Orlando, Florida, and recent appointee to the powerful House Judiciary Committee, said the primary issue is to make sure special counsel Robert Mueller is able to continue his work digging into the 2016 presidential election that appears to have Russian fingerprints all over it.
She said Mueller, whom Trump and many in the GOP now want to either terminate or halted, “couldn’t be a more qualified person, a person of integrity.”
“It seems like the further he gets into his investigation, the more Republican leadership talks about having a problem with him,” she told the Orlando Sentinel. “The best indication of future performance is past performance, and Director Mueller is just miles above reproach.”
Demings called the opportunity as a member of Congress to oversee the administration of justice a great honor.
Reportedly, several Republicans have criticized the Mueller probe looking at possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign and have called for it to end.
Led by Reps. Maxine Waters (D-Calif.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), House Democrats continue to argue that Mueller’s investigation into Russian meddling in the presidential election should be allowed to continue.
“We are here today on behalf of at least 171 members of Congress who believe special counsel Mueller is doing a great job,” Waters said at a news conference as 12 other House Democrats stood by her side. “We are here today on behalf of at least 171 members Congress who believe Mr. Mueller’s investigation should and must continue and must not be obstructed.”
For his part, Trump has continued to deny he intends to fire Mueller and has repeatedly disavowed any collusion by his campaign with Russia, there has been much speculation about Mueller’s job security in the position.
Over the summer, two GOP senators introduced legislation that would require a panel of federal judges to review any order from Trump to fire the special counsel, according to CBS News.
The effort, introduced by Republican Sens. Thom Tillis (N.C.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.), is intended to protect Mueller — also a Republican — as he and his team work on the investigation.
That Mueller suddenly has come under fire from the GOP is a surprise to few, and Trump’s recent declaration that he wouldn’t fire the special counsel has met skepticism.
In an op-ed, Chicago Tribune reporter Eric Zorn noted that Trump’s declaration followed a newly energized campaign of howling by right-wing pundits who are calling for the dismissal of Mueller for alleged bias in his far-reaching investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
“There is a cleansing needed in our FBI and our Department of Justice,” said Fox News host Jeanine Pirro in what Zorn called a particularly unhinged rant last month.
They need “to be cleansed of individuals who should not just be fired but who need to be taken out in handcuffs,” Pirro said.
In slightly more measured tones, Republicans in Congress have been complaining in the wake of revelations that some of the lawyers working on the probe have donated to Democrats, that Mueller got his hands on some email traffic that should have been confidential and that an FBI agent was removed from the investigation last summer when an internal review discovered that he’d called Trump an “idiot” and worse in text messages.
“This tells you GOP lawmakers and Trump loyalists are very worried,” Zorn said. “Not that Mueller is a dishonest broker. He’s long been one of the most admired men in Washington, a highly decorated Marine officer who was appointed in 2001 to run the FBI by Republican President George W. Bush and asked in 2011 to stay on an additional two years by Democratic President Barack Obama.”
Zorn noted that, in a rare moment of bipartisan accord, Democratic and Republican lawmakers hailed Mueller’s exquisite fitness to preside over the probe into Russian election meddling when he was appointed in May.
“They’re worried that he’s getting close to swinging the wrecking ball of truth,” Zorn said. “They’re worried that Trump is actually guilty of impeachable offenses — if not in his dealings with the Russians, then in his attempts to obstruct the probe into those dealings.”
In her role, Demings said homeland security remains her top priority.
“We want to continue balancing the scales of justice, whether its immigration reform, patents, trademarks or national security,” she told the Sentinel. “We want to continue to balance constitutional rights with national security concerns.”