Sen. Susan Collins said Thursday that she would still like James Comey, the former FBI director whom Trump fired abruptly last week, to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee as it investigates Russia’s suspected attempts to influence last year’s presidential election.
On Wednesday, the Justice Department named Robert Mueller to probe the alleged Russian election meddling as well as a special counsel, prompting the question of whether senators will still call on Comey to testify for their investigation or if they will defer to Mueller.
Collins, a Maine Republican and member of the Intelligence Committee, told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Thursday morning that Comey should still go before the Senate because the two investigations remain distinct.
“I’d still like to have Director Comey testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee as soon as possible, before we go out for the recess, next week,” Collins said. “I think it’s important because our investigation is broader.”
“People ask, ‘Why do we need a special counsel and the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation?’” she continued. “And the answer is that we have two very different missions. The special counsel is going to focus on whether or not criminal charges are appropriate. We’re focused on counterintelligence policy, and we can impose sanctions on Russia.”
Collins acknowledged that Mueller might not want Comey to go before the Senate because of his own investigation but said that process is important because it would involve a public hearing.
“I hope we can resolve those conflicts,” Collins said. “Any prosecutor-investigator is going to say, ‘I don’t want any witness coming before the Senate.’ But I think we can tailor this so that perhaps certain subjects would be off-limit.”
“But our investigation is really important because it will be in public,” she added. “His won’t. And we need a far broader set of the facts to come out.”
More and more Republicans have called on Comey to testify this week in the wake of an explosive report that President Donald Trump allegedly asked him to shut down the FBI’s investigation into his former national security adviser, Michael Flynn.