Topeka The Justice Department's decision to hire former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate ties between President Donald Trump's campaign and Russian government officials drew mostly positive reaction Thursday from Kansas' all-Republican congressional delegation.
That represents a slight change in position from a week ago when none of Kansas' senators or House members said they supported calls for a special prosecutor in the wake of Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey.
First District Rep. Roger Marshall, of Great Bend, issued the most caustic comment Thursday in a series of tweets in which he called the investigation a "witch hunt."
"It seems that long before this witch hunt, there has been a national media bias," Marshall wrote. "There is so much noise, and so much conjecture. That said, if a special counsel is what it will take for us to move on to actually do the people's work — so be it."
Mueller headed the FBI for 13 years, from 2001 through 2013, a period that spanned the administrations of Republican President George W. Bush and Democratic President Barack Obama. His first day on the job was Sept. 4, 2001, exactly one week before the terror attacks of 9/11.
Second District Rep. Lynn Jenkins, of Topeka, whose district includes Lawrence, posted a statement on her Facebook page saying Mueller enjoys broad, bipartisan support in Congress.
“As the former FBI Director in both President Bush and President Obama’s administrations, Robert Mueller has earned support from both sides of the aisle in Congress," Jenkins said. "I welcome the Department of Justice’s decision to add Robert Mueller as special counsel to their investigation. With an investigation in the House, Senate and Department of Justice underway, I believe now is the time to return our focus to helping Americans by reforming our tax code and getting more folks back to work.”
Third District Rep. Kevin Yoder, of Overland Park, shared the same sentiment.
“Robert Mueller is a man of the utmost integrity and the American people can trust him to go where the facts lead," Yoder said in an email statement. "I commend the Justice Department and the Administration for taking action to restore the trust of the American people and clear the air on this issue so we can return our focus to reforming our broken tax code, growing our economy, and rebuilding our military to ensure the safety and security of our nation.”
Kansas' newest member of Congress, 4th District Rep. Ron Estes, of Wichita, issued a press release saying he supports Mueller's hiring.
“In a case of such public interest, it is imperative to foster confidence and independence to assure the American people that we are still a nation grounded in the rule of law," Estes said. "I have confidence in former Director Mueller and the professionals at the U.S. Department of Justice to give us a full and fact-based account of any possible efforts to undermine our election process. As this investigation progresses — as well as those of the House and Senate Committees — it is important to give the process and people involved our support and patience.”
Sen. Jerry Moran said in a statement that he expects Mueller to focus on Russia's interference in the 2016 presidential election, but he made no mention of possible ties or collusion with the Trump campaign.
“There have been many questions raised about the effect of Russian interference in our elections, and I welcome the naming of a special counsel to conduct the investigation," he said. "With this appointment, my hope is that the distractions can stop, the counsel can do his job and Congress and the President can deal with the many challenges facing our country. I expect Mr. Mueller’s pursuit of truth to be conducted in a manner that gives the American people confidence in the findings, regardless of the outcome.”
Sen. Pat Roberts, who said last week that he supported Trump's firing of Comey, did not issue a statement on the hiring of a special counsel, but his communications director, Sarah Little, said in an email that Roberts "supports the appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel as an appropriate way forward."