In speeches given on the Senate floor on Friday, Senators Dick Durbin and Dianne Feinstein called on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to either resign or appoint a special prosecutor to take over the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US election.
“In an interview with NBC News, President (Donald) Trump admitted to firing FBI Director James Comey because of his investigation of the Trump campaign’s Russian connections,” Durbin, who is Senate Minority Whip, said in a statement. “That is dangerously close to obstruction of justice. This morning, the President tweeted a thinly veiled threat to Mr. Comey, which could be construed as threatening a witness in this investigation, which is another violation of federal law.”
Feinstein, a California Democrat, echoed a similar position.
“I also support Senator Durbin’s call for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to resign if he is unwilling to appoint a special counsel,” she said. “These investigations are far too important to risk disruption, delay or interference.”
The comments came as concerns continue to deepen across the political spectrum over the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. Hours after White House officials — including Vice President Mike Pence — argued that Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey came on the recommendation of Rosenstein, Trump went on the record in an interview with NBC and offered a conflicting reason.
In his interview with NBC, Trump said “when I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said ‘you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should have won’.”
CNN reported Friday evening that people familiar with Rosenstein’s thinking say he doesn’t believe it’s necessary to appoint a special prosecutor at this point.
Durbin and Feinstein are among a growing contingent of both democratic and Republican Senators suggesting the need for a special prosecutor. Republican Senators Dean Heller, Mike Coffman, Barbara Comstock, Carlos Curbelo, Erik Paulsen, as well as Sen. John McCain have all called for either a special prosecutor or an independent investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.