Congressman Ruben Gallego joined five other Democratic  lawmakers urging House Speaker Paul Ryan to express public support for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation
Congressman Ruben Gallego joined five other Democratic lawmakers urging House Speaker Paul Ryan to express public support for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation
Griselda Nevarez

What Arizona Lawmakers Are Saying (and Not Saying) About Russia Probe

Monday, most Americans woke up to news alerts about the Russia probe and double-fisted indictments of Paul Manafort, a former campaign manager to President Donald Trump, and his business associate, Rick Gates, on multiple conspiracy charges. The day got juicy when we learned George Papadopoulos, a former foreign policy advisor to the Trump campaign, pleaded guilty to making false statements to federal investigators.

It was the kind of news that dominated the news cycle and the minds of nearly everyone who cares mildly about politics. However, most of Arizona's Congressional delegation kept their lips sealed about the indictments — at least on social media. Only four of the 11 have made direct statements about Monday's Russia-related news.

Two Arizona Democrats reiterated the importance of the indictments and Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Congressman Ruben Gallego defended Mueller's probe vehemently in his initial statement released yesterday about the indictments.

“Mueller must be able to continue this investigation to its conclusion without any meddling by President Trump or his administration," Gallego's statement read. "If President Trump fires Mueller, that would be clear obstruction of justice — an impeachable offense."

Today, Gallego took this a step further with a letter signed by five other lawmakers urging House Speaker Paul Ryan to express public support for Mueller’s investigation and divulge what he would do if President Trump fired the Special Counsel.

Monday, Congressman Raúl Grijalva echoed Gallego's worry that the president would swoop in on the independent investigation.

"Where there's smoke, there's fire, and where there are alleged tax cheats and conspirators, there's the Trump campaign," Grijalva said in a statement on social media. "I urge President Trump to keep his tiny orange thumb off the scales of justice and let Special Counsel Mueller continue his investigation, prosecution, and pursuit of justice without obstruction."

On the other side of the aisle, Congressman Trent Franks called for Mueller to step down in a Monday morning interview with KTAR, reaffirming a position he's taken in the past.

"I believe that Mr. Mueller's conflict of interest is absolute and incontrovertible," Franks said in the interview. "This absolute obsession that the left has with Russia is kind of part of their playbook ... they don't constrain themselves to facts."

Republican Congressman Andy Biggs also went on Fox News Saturday to discuss what he called "increasingly disturbing ties" between Robert Mueller  and the Obama administration.

Meanwhile, the majority of Arizona's Congressional delegation remained quiet on the Russian probe front.

Representative Tom O'Hallerman initially ignored the indictment news in the 24 hours after it broke, opting to tweet about "Howl-o-ween" costumes for animals this morning, rather than collusion. He finally tweeted about something Russia related mid-morning, linking to a Reuters live video of Facebook, Google, and Twitter officials testifying before the Senate about Russian interference during the election.

"It's important for Congress to work together to promote transparency in our elections & ensure proper disclosure on all political ads," O'Halleran wrote.

He didn't directly address the indictments or Papadopolous.

Representative Martha McSally opted to tweet about tax reform, rather than conspiracy. Representative Paul Gosar followed her with a series of retweets on taxes and keeping forests healthy.

Kyrsten Sinema took the opportunity tweeted about health insurance for kids. David Schweikert remained silent.

John McCain didn't mention the indictments, but tweeted out a link to a Washington Post story noting that Russian sanctions were worth the trouble, but spent most of his time on social media addressing the Brigade of Midshipmen at the United States Naval Academy.

Jeff Flake didn't mention Russia, but asserted he wasn't "elected to the Senate simply to be part of the 'feedback loop,'" which could indicate his silence on the matter (or maybe all matters!?) will continue.

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