WASHINGTON – Rep. Steve Pearce on Thursday described the deluge of Russia-related controversy engulfing the White House as a “total assault” on President Donald Trump by Democrats and the media, and said the president should have fired former FBI Director James Comey at the outset of his administration.
Pearce, the New Mexico congressional delegation’s lone Republican, said Comey – who has reportedly told associates Trump improperly asked him to close an FBI investigation into Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn – should produce evidence of that. House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz has threatened to subpoena Comey’s notes detailing his conversations with Trump about Flynn.
“I want to see the documentation,” Pearce said during an interview with the Journal in his Capitol Hill office. “Let’s get it over here and let’s take a look at it.”
Pearce said Comey’s reputation was damaged during the 2016 presidential election when he announced less than two weeks before ballots were cast that Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton was under investigation for sending classified information in emails. Comey then cleared Clinton three days before the election, but many political analysts have said his action may have cost Clinton the presidency.
“Comey has played loose with the facts before, in my opinion,” Pearce said. “He’d already shown himself in my book to be politicized. He should have been terminated under (President Barack) Obama. I was surprised that Trump used him, so when he actually let him go I said that was kind of a long time coming.”
The Justice Department on Wednesday appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to investigate alleged ties between Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign and the Russian government, and Pearce said he was OK with that.
“I’m happy for any of the investigations to go on,” Pearce said. “I’m not protective in that sense, but at some point it seems like a total assault – that we’re going to keep finding stuff until we find something that will get to the level we want it to.”
Pearce, echoing a frequent complaint of the president, also said that he thinks those who leaked information about Trump’s private conversations with top Russian officials at the White House last week should be as much a part of the controversy as the content of the conversation. Trump is alleged to have shared highly classified information about the Islamic State terror group with the Russians in the Oval Office last week.
“If Trump did something wrong – fine,” Pearce said. “But every day there is a new allegation and you get these unauthorized leaks of top-secret information and very sensitive information. The information that he maybe shared or didn’t share – it’s still unclear and I haven’t seen the evidence on that. But nobody would know that it’s top-secret if the agents themselves hadn’t told, so they’re doing very deep harm and nobody is questioning that at all.”