Rep. Adam Kinzinger, the only Illinois GOP lawmaker calling for an outside inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 campaign and Trump associates, on Wednesday welcomed the appointment of a special prosecutor — while Illinois Democrats said that wasn’t enough.
Illinois Democrats in Congress applauded the Justice Department tapping former FBI chief Robert Mueller to lead the probe, with Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., among those pressing for the additional creation of an independent commission.
Mueller’s appointment means President Donald Trump faces a potentially sweeping investigation, from the 2016 election, to the fired National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia, to whether Trump asked FBI Director James Comey to drop his Flynn probe before he fired him.
Here’s a roundup of the Illinois delegation:
• On Wednesday morning on CNN, Kinzinger said: “I think it’s time that we look at the idea of whether its an independent commission or a special prosecutor.”
There is an important distinction between the two. An independent commission, such as the 9-11 Commission, aims to put together the entire story of how Russia tried to influence the 2016 presidential contest, even if the evidence does not point to a specific crime. A special prosecutor is on the hunt to determine if any federal crimes were committed.
After the Justice Department announcement Kinzinger said Mueller “is a well-respected and trusted veteran of the FBI. The American people deserve answers, transparency and most importantly, the truth. This special counsel appointment is a step in the right direction on getting answers on the many questions we have with Russian meddling in our election and our democracy.”
• Durbin, pressing for an independent commission, said: “The special counsel will examine and prosecute any crimes that may have been committed, but this will not solve the bigger crisis of Russia’s cyberattack on our country — only an independent commission can do that.”
• Democratic Reps. Dan Lipinski and Raja Krishnamoorthi also want a 9-11 style commission. “There is a need for broader fact finding in areas where the letter of the law may not have been violated, but important questions of national security still lie in the balance and must be addressed for the safety and security of the American people,” Krishnamoorthi said.
• Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill., who earlier only called for Comey to testify before Congress, went further and on Wednesday praised the Mueller appointment after it was announced.
Roskam is facing his first major Democratic challenge in years, with Democrats intent on making Trump a major factor in the 2018 contest.
“The appointment of a special counsel to oversee the inquiry into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election is a welcome development,” Roskam said.
• Rep. Jan Schakowsky, D-Ill., said: “With yesterday’s reports of President Trump’s attempt to shut down the investigation into Michael Flynn, we must be assured that this investigation will be kept well beyond the President’s reach and completely above reproach.”
• Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Ill., noting that Democrats — not Republicans — led the charge for the inquiry and said, “Now Congress and the American people will have the opportunity to receive detailed information on the facts of what took place during last year’s election cycle.”
• Rep. Cheri Bustos, D-Ill., said she was “hopeful” that Mueller “will be impartial and leave no stone unturned to get to the bottom of President Trump’s possible ties to Vladimir Putin and the latest accusations of attempting to obstruct an FBI investigation.”