VIDEO - “a really troubling attempt by our President to continue to try to undermine the rule of law and to suggest that somehow the Department of Justice should take direction from him over Twitter.”
Sen. Coons joins CNN’s Wolf Blitzer to discuss President Trump’s comments about the Department of Justice and the FBI and continued protests in Iran.
“I'm concerned that a number of House Republicans are making increasingly baseless attacks on the Department of Justice and the FBI, and that this is not just demoralizing to federal law enforcement but destabilizing to the rule of law,” said Coons.
“It seems hard to believe that if this Trump campaign aide, Papadopoulos, had access to very damaging dirt on Hillary Clinton, stolen by the Russians and proffered to him, that he felt so enthusiastic about, that he was bragging about it to a senior Australian ambassador serving in London, it seems hard to believe that he then also wouldn't share it with the Trump campaign,” said Coons.
More on President Trump and the DOJ:
Yes, I'm concerned that although the President's lawyers continue to say that they will fully cooperate with Robert Mueller's investigation, that the President's erratic behavior on Twitter, his shifting back and forth and the statements like the one you just read suggests that he might abruptly take action such as firing Robert Mueller before his investigation can fully conclude.
More on the DOJ and FBI:
Well, I'm concerned that a number of House Republicans are making increasingly baseless attacks on the Department of Justice and the FBI, and that this is not just demoralizing to federal law enforcement but destabilizing to the rule of law. To have folks in office trying to assist the President in his ongoing effort to undermine this investigation. This is not constructive and I think it is in everyone's interest--Republicans and Democrats, House and Senate--for these investigations to be allowed to move forward to their logical conclusion, and if they reach the conclusion there was no collusion, so be it. If they reach a conclusion that there was, then I think rule of law demands we follow those conclusions, but this sort of effort by Devin Nunes, the House Republican Chair of the Intelligence Committee, to open a side investigation without consulting the full membership of the committee is another troubling development.
Coons on the Russia probe:
It seems hard to believe that if this Trump campaign aide, Papadopoulos, had access to very damaging dirt on Hillary Clinton, stolen by the Russians and proffered to him, that he felt so enthusiastic about, that he was bragging about it, to a senior Australian ambassador serving in London, it seems hard to believe that he then also wouldn't share it with the Trump campaign. This is a compelling lead that is worthy of being followed up and it suggests that there may yet be evidence that ties the path of the emails that were hacked by the Russians from the DNC and the Trump campaign.
Coons on Iran:
I do think it's important for leaders in the United States, including our President, to speak out on behalf of and in support of human rights around the world. I was surprised that even Rouhani, the leader of Iran, the elected leader of Iran, recently said that there is a right to protest, something previous Iranian leaders have not recognized or celebrated, but clearly the internal security services are already cracking down fairly hard on protests. I think it is important that we continue to speak out in support of the Iranian people as they try to pursue their own goals. The regime that has held sway in Iran since 1979 is brutal and repressive. I'm the co-chair with Senator Thom Tillis of North Carolina of the Senate Human Rights Caucus, and we put out a bipartisan statement in sympathy and solidarity with the Iranian people as they try to express their desires for more economic freedom and more political freedom.
I don't think the Iranian regime is a friend of the United States, of democracy, or of human rights. But, I also think that our ability to actually effect regime change in Iran is very limited. And, I think it's important that we talk about these demonstrations in ways that can't be misused by the Iranian regime for propaganda purposes internally. As your previous conversation with Jim Sciutto suggested, access to the internet, access through social media to each other in Iran is an absolutely vital piece of making it possible for the Iranian people to express themselves. And, there are steps we can take to help ensure that those who are seeking to express themselves continue to have free access to the internet. Other repressive regimes around the world tried to shut off the internet or censor the internet, and it's important that we continue to encourage free access to the internet around the world.
An important part of the record here is that the Iran Nuclear Deal was a deal about just that, about Iran's nuclear program. It didn't restrict the United States' ability to take action against Iran's bad behavior with regards to human rights or support for terrorism or its ballistic missile program, and on a strong bipartisan basis this past year, Congress did just that, we gave the President the power to impose stronger sanctions against Iran on those specific areas, human rights violations, ballistic missiles, support for terrorism. I would be concerned that if the President were to tear up the Iran Nuclear Deal, it would further distance us from our European allies who were vital partners in that work and it would remove any remaining restrictions on the Iranians from racing forward towards a nuclear weapon. We already have a significant strategic challenge with North Korea, we don't need a nuclear-armed Iran facing us with another challenge.