Democratic lawmakers, commentators, and ethics officials are expressing shock—but not surprise—on Friday regarding a new report that President Donald Trump attempted to pressure Republican Senate leaders earlier this year to curb their investigation into Russia's alleged meddling in the 2016 election.
Can anyone spell— Jon Cooper (@joncoopertweets) December 1, 2017
The New York Times reported on Thursday that Trump spoke to Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which was conducting the probe, about wrapping up the investigation.
"It was something along the lines of, 'I hope you can conclude this as quickly as possible,'" Burr told the Times.
The senator remarked that in the conversations in question, Trump seemed unaware that a president urging those investigating his campaign to end the inquiry would be construed as improper, as the president viewed himself mainly as a business owner rather than a public servant.
"Businessmen are paid to skip things that they think they can skip and get away with," said Burr.
Trump also spoke to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) about his hope that the probe would end quickly.
The reported conversations came about two months after the president fired James Comey from his position as FBI director, raising alarm among critics that the dismissal amounted to an obstruction of justice. Norm Eisen, chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) and formerly President Barack Obama's chief ethics lawyer, wrote on Twitter that the alleged conversations add weight to that belief.
Not surprised but just wrong: Trump Pressed Top Republicans to End Senate Russia Inquiry https://t.co/OAeT7RzbNL— Amy Klobuchar (@amyklobuchar) December 1, 2017
To end Kremlingate probe, Trump has fired Comey, pressured Sessions, threatened Mueller, and now, we learn, beseeched congressional leaders. I’m sure he has nothing to hide. https://t.co/wzQAdV9ZnM— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) December 1, 2017