WASHINGTON - Following the firing of FBI Director James Comey, Democrats have called for a special prosecutor to handle the investigation into Russia's possible election meddling. Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) joined us to discuss the current situation.
"This whole thing stinks to high heaven," Van Hollen said when he joined us in studio on Thursday. "You have an ongoing investigation by the FBI Director into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians. And just as that investigation is heating up, just as Comey reportedly was asking the Justice Department for more resources, he gets fired. So, it does look, I think to most fair-minded people, as a deliberate effort to intervene."
"The only way to restore credibility and confidence in the process is to appoint an independent special prosecutor who cannot be fired by the President of the United States," he continued.
"I think it's a matter of building public and political pressure to restore confidence," Van Hollen said about the process to get a special prosecutor appointed.
He said that Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General for the United States Department of Justice, should designate the Senior Career official at the Justice Department to make the appointment. Van Hollen said that by following this process, someone who is totally unbiased and independent can take control of the investigation.
"So it really does come down to him at this point in time because Attorney General Sessions has recused himself from any dealings with this," he said. "Rod Rosenstein has now allowed his letter to be used as the pretext for the firing of Comey."
Van Hollen says that many Republicans have joined Democrats in a call for a special prosecutor.
Van Hollen believes that if pressure continues to build a special prosecutor will be appointed. If it does not happen, Van Hollen says he would like to see an independent commission similar to what was created after September 11.
Van Hollen says he was disappointed Deputy Attorney General for the United States Department of Justice, Rod Rosenstein, allowed himself to be used. "As you know, there have been reports that he threatened - just yesterday - to resign because the Trump administration was kind of fingering him for the decision to fire Comey," Van Hollen said.
"I mean, the notion that Donald Trump is firing the FBI Director because of his investigation of Hillary Clinton emails just doesn't meet the laugh test. After the election President Trump praised Comey for his handling of those e-mails."
Van Hollen said he plans to speak with Rosenstein about taking the next step in the investigation. He also said it is unclear how the Russia probe will affect the timetable in the Senate for considering the health care bill.