Darrell Issa Calls for Special Prosecutor to Investigate Trump-Russia Contacts

In what is kind of a big deal, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), who supported Trump during the election, said on HBO’s “Real Time” with Bill Maher that a special prosecutor is necessary to investigate Trump’s contacts with Russia.

Asked by Maher if it were 2012 and it was Romney’s campaign that was hacked and Obama who had a lot of contact with Russia if he would let the matter “slide” Issa said, “No.” In a breathtaking moment, when Maher asked, “So you’re not gonna let this slide?” Issa again said, “No.”

The moment was captured by Dave Itzkoff (the full interview can be found here):

Asked how he would proceed, Issa answered,

“We’re gonna ask the intelligence committees of the House and Senate to investigate within their special areas they oversee.”

“An independent prosecutor,” Maher interjected to Issa’s nod of agreement.

Issa next told Maher that Jeff Sessions, the newly-appointed Attorney General of the United States, must recuse himself:

Maher:“And Jeff Sessions must recuse himself, in the same way Loretta Lynch recused herself because he was part of the Trump campaign. Is that correct? Jeff Sessions should recuse himself?”

Issa: “You’re right. You cannot have somebody, a friend of mine Jeff Sessions, who was on the campaign and who is an appointee. You’re going to need to use the special prosecutor’s statute and office to take — not just to recuse. You can’t just give it to your deputy. That’s another political appointee.”

Issa went on to say,

“There may or may not be fault but the American people who are beginning to understands that Putin murders his enemies, sometimes right in front of the Kremlin…he’s murdered people and taken down using cyber warfare in Georgia and Ukraine.

“This is a bad guy who murders people. Who runs a gas station with an economy the size of Italy but is screwing up things all over the world, that we’ve been, quote, ‘working with.’

“Now, we have to work with them. We don’t have to trust them. And we need to investigate their activities, and we need to do it because they are bad people.”

This is in marked contrast to Trump’s endless tips of the hat to Vladimir Putin. Infamously, in speaking to Bill O’Reilly, Trump even defended those murders Issa said were the very reason we must investigate.

“You got a lot of killers,” said Trump. “What, you think our country’s so innocent?”

Trump’s history of positive remarks about Putin contain many lies about whether he knows Putin but the consistent message is that he has a great deal of liking and respect for a Russian dictator who murders his political enemies, as Issa said:

Trump has said Putin is doing “a great job” (Larry King, 2007), “I respect Putin and Russians” (Time to Get Tough, 2011), “Will he become my new best friend?” (Twitter, 2013), “I do have a relationship with him” (2013), “I think I’d get along very well with Vladimir Putin” (2015), “I think that I would probably get along with him very well” (Face the Nation, 2015), “I got to know him very well because we were both on ’60 Minutes'” (2015), “It is always a great honor to be so nicely complimented by a man so highly respected within his own country and beyond” (Trump statement, 2015), “He’s running his country and at least he’s a leader” (Morning Joe, 2015), “I have no relationship with him other than he called me a genius” (2016), “I’m saying that I’d possibly have a good relationship. He’s been very nice to me” (Bill O’Reilly, 2016),

Issa is right: Only a special prosecutor can be trusted to get to the bottom of Trump’s contacts with Russia and Jeff Sessions must recuse himself.