Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., accused House Republicans on Wednesday of undermining special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into possible ties between Russia and President Donald Trump’s presidential campaign by pushing for the release of a controversial classified intelligence memo.
Sanders told the PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff that House Republicans are “100 percent” politicizing Mueller’s Russia probe by calling for the release of the memo, which was written by aides to Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee. The panel voted along party lines Monday to release the memo, something that angered Democrats, who say the document “omits crucial facts and should not be selectively released.”
The memo reportedly argues the FBI abused its authority in compiling information on the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia. Trump has signaled he wants the memo released. But the FBI said it has “grave concerns” about doing so, and Democrats say it is an effort by Republicans to undermine the credibility of Mueller’s investigation.
Sanders told Woodruff that the controversy shows Republicans were “turning against” the FBI.
“What the FBI and many Americans are really wondering about is: How does it happen that you have a Republican party, which for so many years defended law enforcement, defended the intelligence agencies, are now turning against them?” Sanders said.
Other highlights from the interview:
- Sanders said he hopes Democrats and Republicans answer Trump’s call Tuesday in his State of the Union speech to reach a common ground on immigration, noting that a majority of Congress supports legislation that would ensure young undocumented immigrants don’t lose their legal status.
- The Democratic Party does not have a unity problem, Sanders said. Democrats drew criticism for having at least four additional responses, including one by Sanders, to Trump’s State of the Union speech that competed for attention with the party’s official response by Rep. Joe Kennedy III, D-Mass.
- Wealth inequality in the United States could push the country toward an “oligarchic form of society,” Sanders said, echoing one of the chief themes of his 2016 presidential campaign. Democrats should mobilize a grassroots movement to “demand that we have a government that represents the middle-class working people and not just the 1 percent,” he said.