White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Fox on Tuesday that “it’s time to move on” from the investigations into whether President Donald Trump colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential election.
Sanders’ comments came hours after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, which she said would not have an impact on the FBI’s investigation into Trump’s Russia ties. She said that she thinks the larger point, however, is “when are they going to let that go?”
“It’s been going on for nearly a year,” Sanders said. “Frankly, it’s kind of getting absurd. There’s nothing there. We’ve heard it time and time again. We heard it in the testimonies earlier this week. We’ve heard it for the last 11 months. There is no ‘there’ there. It’s time to move on, and frankly, it’s time to focus on things the American people care about.”
Comey testified before the House Intelligence Committee in March that the FBI was still in its early stages of the counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s election interference and whether the Trump campaign was involved. Counterintelligence probes often take years, and lawmakers on both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees said the investigations could seep into the 2018 midterm elections.
Most Democrats and a handful of Republicans were quick to condemn Trump’s decision to fire Comey, who was in the middle of investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia when he was unexpectedly fired on Tuesday evening.
The dismissal has emboldened calls from both parties to the Justice Department, however, to appoint a special prosecutor to oversee the bureau’s Russia investigation. Others are insisting that Comey appear before the appropriate congressional committees to testify about the investigation now that he is a private citizen.
Former National Security Agency lawyer Susan Hennessey wrote in Lawfare blog on Tuesday that “getting rid of Comey…removes the guy who can look Congress in the eye and say credibly that the FBI is investigating whether anyone in the Trump orbit was actively working with the Russians.”
“It removes the guy who, in February, reportedly refused the White House’s request to publicly knock down stories about Trump and Russia while congressmen in key positions of investigatory responsibility allegedly complied,” Hennessey continued. “It removes the one person of stature (figurative as well as literal) in the government whom everyone knows will–even when he’s wrong–do what he thinks is the right thing and damn the torpedoes. It removes, in other words, the essential person for a credible investigation.”
Sessions and Rosenstein said in their statements that they recommended firing Comey because of how he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server. But New York Times reporter Michael Schmidt reported that Sessions had been trying to find an excuse to fire Comey for at least a week.
Watch Sanders’ exchange with Fox’s Tucker Carlson below:
More from Natasha Bertrand:
- White House spokesperson: ‘It’s time to move on’ from the Trump-Russia probe
- Trump’s firing of Comey seems ‘suicidal’ — but it could ‘energize’ the Russia probe
- Sean Spicer calls Sally Yates a ‘political opponent’ in explaining why Trump ignored her advice
- James Clapper gave an intriguing answer when asked about Trump’s business ties to Russia
- Republicans and Democrats basically held 2 separate hearings with Sally Yates and James Clapper
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