WASHINGTON – U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen called for an independent investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election following President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, going further than most GOP lawmakers in questioning a move that has roiled the Capitol over the last day.
“Maintaining public trust in the integrity of our elections as well as our institutions, such as the FBI, is of the utmost importance,” Paulsen said in a statement. “For 10 months, the FBI has been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. The extraordinary decision to fire Director Comey definitely raises questions which must be answered.”
He added: “I believe these circumstances call for an independent investigation that the American people can trust with confidence.”
The Eden Prairie lawmaker is the only Republican in Minnesota’s congressional delegation to issue a statement calling for an independent probe. And he's one of just five Republicans in Congress to do so, according to a tally by the New York Times of lawmakers' reactions to Comey's firing.
Democrats have seized on the issue with vigor. In a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, Sen. Al Franken said the timing and circumstances of Comey’s firing were “very suspicious” and politically motivated. In another floor speech, Sen. Amy Klobuchar said the firing cast doubt about the independence of any further investigation into foreign interference in the election. Other Minnesota Democrats are also calling for an independent prosecutor to conduct the investigation into Russia’s ties to Trump during the campaign, including Reps. Keith Ellison, Betty McCollum, Tim Walz and Rick Nolan.