President Trump's new attacks over the weekend against the man leading the Russia probe put renewed pressure on California House Republicans already facing a tough reelection campaign.
Trump repeated his characterization of the investigation as a "witch hunt" and for the first time criticized by name Robert S. Mueller III, the former FBI head who is leading the probe into Russia's election meddling and possible collusion with the Trump campaign.
Trump also celebrated the firing of former FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe, whose notes about his interactions with Trump could be helpful to Mueller's probe. The FBI's Office of Professional Responsibility recommended McCabe be fired over allegations that he authorized the disclosure of sensitive information to a reporter and misled investigators when asked about it.
Both developments put California Republicans in a difficult spot as many struggle to keep their seats in districts won by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, and others work to keep from alienating Trump supporters.
So far most have remained silent, but here are the responses of some to questions about whether they thought McCabe's firing was appropriate and whether Congress should — as Democrats believe — pass legislation to protect Mueller from being fired, particularly as Trump and his attorneys increase their calls for the probe to be ended.
|RepresentativeKevin McCarthy||PartyRepublican||District23||Response"A lot of Democrats are trying to make this a political problem, but it's not," McCarthy said of McCabe's firing. "An independent, nonpartisan inspector general found the information of McCabe lying, thought it was severe enough even before its final report came forward to send it to the FBI, send it to the ethics department of the FBI... the Office of Professional Responsibility.”|
|RepresentativeSteve Knight||PartyRepublican||District25||ResponseKnight’s staff said the congressman “continues to support Robert Mueller’s special investigation and believes it would be ill-advised for the White House to interfere in this process.”|
|RepresentativeDoug LaMalfa||PartyRepublican||District1||Response"At a time that the bureau needs to have confidence built up into it, it was the right move," LaMalfa said of McCabe's firing.|
|RepresentativeEdward Royce||PartyRepublican||District39||ResponseRoyce’s staff pointed to the congressman’s original statement when Mueller was chosen: “He still believes that Robert Mueller is the right man to lead this investigation and that we’ve got to get to the bottom of Russia’s efforts to meddle in our democratic process so we can keep it from happening again.”|
|RepresentativeMimi Walters||PartyRepublican||District45||Response“The investigation into Russian meddling in our elections must continue until all the facts are known, and we can better protect ourselves from further interference. I have faith that the special prosecutor and Justice Department will continue to conduct a fair and thorough investigation. I believe they should be allowed to continue their important work.“|
Read more about the 55 members of California's delegation at latimes.com/politics.
2 p.m, March 20: This article was updated with comment from Rep. Mimi Walters.
5:40 p.m.: This article was updated with comment from Rep. Doug LaMalfa.