Government

Brown, Ryan Reiterate Call for Special Prosecutor

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown and U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan reiterated their calls Monday for a special prosecutor to look into Russian interference in last year’s presidential election.

Brown, D-Ohio, said Republican senators are “grumbling,” although unwilling to speak publicly, about what’s happening in Washington, including President Donald Trump’s firing last week of FBI Director James Comey, who was overseeing the investigation into allegations of whether the Russian government colluded with the Trump campaign to influence the outcome of the election.

The Russia investigation was compounded Monday evening with the disclosure that Trump divulged classified information to the Russian foreign minister and ambassador at the White House last week, jeopardizing a “critical source of intelligence on the Islamic state,” the Washington Post reported.

“There’s a lot of concern among senators and House members of both parties,” Brown said yesterday morning, following a news conference with members of the United Steelworkers of America. Trump is “clearly hiding things” about connections between Russian oligarchs and Russian President Vladimir Putin, and Trump’s family businesses, the Trump election campaign and Trump himself.

Democrats as well as a wide majority in polls say a special prosecutor should conduct the investigation, Brown said. Senators in both parties don’t necessarily trust someone Trump would put at the FBI,” he remarked.

An NBC-Wall Street Journal poll shows nearly eight in 10 people – 78% — would prefer an investigation led by an independent prosecutor or an independent commission. Only 15% said Congress is up to the job.

In a briefing Monday afternoon, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said there is “no need” for a special prosecutor to investigate the allegations of Russian involvement in the election. He cited the ongoing investigations by Senate and the House of Representatives and the FBI probe.

“I don’t know why you need additional resources when you already have three entities,” Spicer said, according to Fox News.

Brown said he is pleased with the bipartisan effort in the Senate, but criticized the chairman of the House committee looking into the issue as “feckless,” “inept” and “cowardly” because of his actions so far.

“The problem is the Senate doesn’t have the prosecutors and the staff and the longtime law enforcement people to know how to do this,” the senator said. “The FBI does. A prosecutor would but I don’t necessarily trust the person Trump might put there. Trump is going to demand loyalty, [not] to question. That’s how he operates.”

Ryan, D-13 Ohio, called Comey’s firing “outrageous,” in remarks after he stopped at Cassese’s MVR in Smoky Hollow Monday afternoon. Firing Comey “was like trying to shoot the county prosecutor if he was going to build a case against you,” he remarked, alluding to the shooting years ago of Mahoning County Prosecutor Paul Gains.

He echoed Brown’s call for an independent investigation.

“A special prosecutor for sure,” he said. “I think [an independent] 9-11 style commission looking into it has to happen,” he said.

Ryan was at the restaurant for an event presented by the Hope Foundation of the Mahoning Valley to recognize All For the Kids Awareness Day. Signed into law last year by Gov. John Kasich last year, the aim to call attention to chronic and terminal illnesses children suffer and turn that increased awareness “into community support, action, treatment, cures – whatever we can do to assist these families,” said Anthony Spano, Hope Foundation founder and executive director.

Ryan alluded to efforts and he others made to secure health coverage for individuals and families with passage of the Affordable Care Act, acknowledging that former U.S. Rep. John Boccieri – in attendance in his currentrole as a state representative – likely lost his seat because of his vote in favor of the health-care law

“We don’t want to give you lip service. We want to give you access to affordable health care that covers everything,” Ryan said, “not where you pay a lot of money and don’t get any coverage.”

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.