VIDEO - Sen. Chris Coons: “President Trump has had a truly puzzling and mystifying hesitation to take appropriate action against Russia.”
Sen. Chris Coons joined CNN New Day to discuss Special Counsel Robert Mueller and President Trump’s decision to reject a new Russian sanctions. He said:
“President Trump has had a truly puzzling and mystifying hesitation to take appropriate action against Russia.
“He ordered a military strike on Syrian chemical weapons facilities but then hesitated and then reversed direction on advice from his most senior advisers on taking sanctions against companies that helped facilitate that deadly chemical weapons infrastructure by Syria,” said Coons.
“Deeply puzzling. Jim Comey in his new book out today suggests he can’t answer the question whether or not the President is compromised by something the Russians have on him.
“It is concerning that we don’t have a clear strategy in Syria, that we don’t have a clear strategy with regards to Russia, and while I respect that the President thinks it would be better for us to have a good relationship with Russia, I think Presidents both Republican and Democrats for decades have recognized that in confronting Russia in their aggression we need to be strong first and pursue diplomacy second.”
“I’m very concerned.
“I know many of my Republican colleagues are confident that the President won’t take this very serious and very unwise step, but I’m encouraged that Sen. Tillis, Sen. Graham have joined with Sen. Booker and me to introduce a simple bill, what I call an ounce of prevention bill that would prevent a constitutional crisis.
“Well, it takes existing Department of Justice regulations that prohibit the firing of the special counsel for anything other than just cause and it makes that into statute and clarifies what the relief would be if the special counsel were fired, it would freeze his work product and give him ten days to appeal to a three-judge panel and if they decided he was improperly fired, he could be reinstated to resume leading the investigation.
“It is now going to get a hearing -- it had a hearing last fall.
“It’s now on the agenda for the Senate Judiciary Committee which I think is a big step forward and I think this is going to become a subject of intense discussion between colleagues.
“I spoke to several Republican colleagues over the weekend and I think they see as I see, that the President’s tempo after the Michael Cohen raid has changed significantly and there’s no longer the question of if he takes some action against this investigation but when.
“Whether it’s firing Rod Rosenstein or trying to pressure the attorney general to resign or doing something more direct right at the special counsel.”
“It doesn’t directly affect the ongoing investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller in to potential Russian collusion into the 2016 election or potential obstruction of justice by the President or folks in the Trump campaign organization.
“What it does do, I think is pose serious legal risk for the President as every law student knows, attorney-client privilege is very important.
“It’s a fundamental principal of our legal system, but if there’s evidence that an attorney is engaged in or concealing crime or fraud that attorney-client privilege can be pierced and that’s what happened here.
“The Southern District of New York U.S. Attorney’s office will be moving forward on this investigation and any resulting prosecution and given that President Trump before he was elected had decades of a tabloid existence in New York back and forth, lots of different changes in marital status or allegations and that his personal lawyer was described as ‘Mr. Fix It’ I would think he might face significant legal risk.
On Nikki Haley
"Well, it’s another example of the disconcerting disconnect between some of the President’s most senior advisers and what the President himself chooses to with regards to Russia.
"This isn’t the first time this is happened.
"I’ll remind you, just three weeks ago that the President was publicly saying we should pull out of Syria, the change in direction, that’s a whipsaw from we’re about to withdraw from this country to we are launching military attacks on it and later today, all senators are going to be briefed by the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs on what’s happened in Syria but although we will press for it, I will ask for it, I don’t expect to hear a coherent strategy for what to do with Syria.
"This puts us at risk.
"It’s important that we have a coherent strategy from this administration about where we’re going not just in Syria but with regards to Russia and Iran and North Korea."