A Republican senator tried on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” to defend both President Donald Trump and special counsel Robert Mueller — but he wasn’t able to successfully perform either task.
Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) called for Mueller to wrap up his probe into Trump campaign ties to Russia, but he also insisted he wanted the investigation to go wherever it leads.
“I’m concerned if the president tries to influence an investigation,” Kennedy began. “Now, as long as he offers an opinion about an investigation, he’s entitled to do that, just as you are, just as I am.”
“There’s no doubt in my mind that the Russians did interfere in the 2016 election,” he continued. “Now, did they determine the outcome of the election? I don’t know how anybody can draw that conclusion, even with the facts.”
The Louisiana Republican said he’s tired of rumor and innuendo about the Mueller investigation, and he called on the special counsel to issue a report to end as soon as possible.
“I want to see the facts,” Kennedy said. “If somebody did something wrong, let the chips fall where they may. But the American people are smart enough to figure it out. We’ve got to have a report, and I trust the FBI to give us a report, and I trust the inspector general to give us a report, and let’s get the facts. If somebody deserves to be punished, let’s punish the hell out of them and move on.”
Host Joe Scarborough said Trump was attacking law enforcement agencies he oversaw as chief executive, but Kennedy placed responsibility for upholding the rule of law on individual officers.
“Well, it comes down to character, Joe,” Kennedy said. “If we have people in the upper echelon of the FBI or Justice Department (who) can’t stand up to a president or senator –”
Scarborough cut him off, saying he was asking whether Trump was improperly trying to steer the investigation away from himself.
“I don’t know and, really, nobody else does,” Kennedy said. “You can draw conclusions from the objective evidence. I mean, the president tweets a lot.”
The senator agreed with Scarborough that objective evidence existed to suggest Trump was trying to interfere with Mueller’s probe, but he insisted the special counsel should be ready to present his findings by now.
“Well, I don’t think we’re rushing,” Kennedy said. “I mean, it’s been a year.”
Kennedy admitted he didn’t know where the investigation stood, but the senator said he was tired of hearing about it.
“It’s an important issue, but we’ve got a lot of other important issues, and this issue kind of just sucks all the oxygen out of the room,” Kennedy said. “I mean, on some days that’s all anybody wants to talk about up here, in the media and outside the media.”
“All I’m saying is, my personal preference, I’m not trying to tell Mr. Mueller what to do — I don’t have the authority anyway,” he continued. “I’m not trying to interfere in his investigation, I don’t want to end his investigation. I would just ask respectfully if he can along with the inspector general to try to wrap it up.”