WASHINGTON – At least two big revelations came to light on the Hill after an all Senate briefing on the Russia investigation.
A swarm of media greeted senators as they left the closed-door briefing with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
“I think the shock to the body is, it’s now considered a criminal investigation and Congress’s ability to conduct an investigation of all things Russia has been severely limited, probably in an appropriate fashion,” Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told reporters.
In addition to the news it’s no longer a counterintelligence probe, which does not typically result in charges, Democratic senators claim Rosenstein knew the president planned to fire James Comey before he wrote the memo outlining reasons the FBI director should be dismissed.
Sen. Graham says he thinks members from both parties approve of the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Still, he thinks many do not understand that it pretty much “knocks Congress out of the game.”
“One of the side benefits of this is that Congress has been pretty much side lined, not completely but pretty much, and we can go back to dealing with legislative matters that affect the American people,” said Graham.
While the president says he respects the Mueller appointment, he thinks “the entire thing is a witch hunt.”
This is the single greatest witch hunt of a politician in American history!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 18, 2017
“I respect the move [to appoint a special counsel], but the entire thing has been a witch hunt,” President Trump said Thursday. “There is no collusion between certainly myself and my campaign.”
While the White House dominates media attention, Republican lawmakers on the Hill insist they’re moving ahead and making progress on many issues.
“Whether it’s tax policy, health care, or something else, we’re still doing those things, though most of the media attention is focused on the White House and Trump right now,” Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla., told CBN News.
Lankford says he thinks the mainstream media prefers the chase over what’s actually happening in Washington right now.
“I’m not sure the media coverage is fair at this point because everyone obsesses about the latest rumor, and they seem to be running through a theme, and everything that feeds that theme they run with it whether it’s an anonymous source or whether anyone else has background information on it or not, and suddenly one person writes a story and everyone else covers the story that someone else wrote, and it’s dominating the news cycle,” said Lankford.
After a rough week of headlines, the White House aims to get back on track with what it hopes will be a successful first overseas trip for President Trump.