Skepticism, support and silence — reactions to the latest round of Russia-related allegations aimed at President Donald Trump ran the gamut among Georgia’s GOP national lawmakers on Wednesday.
The day before, The New York Times published its report on the personal writings of fired FBI Director James Comey, which allege that Trump pressured the former director to drop an investigation into Trump’s former national security adviser Michael Flynn after Flynn was fired by the president in February.
The Republican leadership in the House and Senate have launched investigations into the claim, scheduling hearings in the Capitol with Comey and requesting he turn over all of his memos related to private conversations with Trump.
Georgia lawmakers representing Hall County in Washington, D.C. — Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, and Sens. David Perdue and Johnny Isakson — had very different reactions to the allegations.
Collins was skeptical of the allegations about Trump and Comey, but he said it was Congress’ job to investigate them while continuing to push the GOP’s legislative agenda.
“I think there are concerns,” Collins told The Times about the news. “I think we’re going to address those. With the new revelations from Comey, the relevant committees — the oversight committee, the judiciary committee — are going to be looking into those and actually getting copies of the documents.”
Collins sits on the House Judiciary Committee, which oversees federal courts, administrative agencies and law enforcement — including the FBI. The House Oversight Committee has already requested the memos, and Collins said the judiciary committee likely would follow suit.
He said that while Congress will investigate the allegations, the public shouldn’t jump to conclusions before investigations are concluded.
“First off, I want to see more than what’s been reported. I want to see the totality of the memos,” he said. “... I’m an attorney at heart. I want to see the facts. I want to see the source documents. What were they written under? Why would they have not been voiced sooner? Why did they come out a week and a half after his firing?”
The Gainesville Republican avoided criticizing Trump and his administration, but was skeptical of all other parties involved in the controversy and had strong words for Russia.
Collins questioned the timing of the allegations — asking why Comey didn’t come forward sooner about Trump’s request to drop the Flynn investigation. He questioned the motives of Democrats now calling for Trump’s impeachment, who he said were trying “to distract Congress from moving on the agenda that voters elected us to.”
Of Russia, Collins blasted Russian President Vladimir Putin as “nothing but a strong-arm KGB dictator,” said the United States’ own intelligence suggests the country sought to meddle in the November election and made clear he still considers the nation an “adversary” of the United States.
“I’m still in the military — I do not believe them to be a friend,” Collins said. “I believe they have nefarious motives in most of the regions of the world. I do believe at times we do have an alignment of interests — they are not a fan of ISIS and neither are we. But I think for the most part, I don’t trust their motives.”
Meanwhile, Georgia’s senators had much less to say on the Comey allegations.
Perdue was supportive of Trump in an interview to Bloomberg TV on Wednesday, saying that “it would be hard for me to believe that this will be substantiated, so we will see how it turns out. I’m anxious to get past all of this this week and move on to the agenda the people in America really want us to focus on.”
The junior senator also said the relevant Senate committees will look into the allegations and “will get to the bottom of this.” Perdue issued a statement on May 10, after Comey was fired, saying that the president “acted decisively and within his authority, and I stand behind him.”
Isakson chose silence. Spokeswoman Amanda Maddox wrote to The Times saying that the senior senator “does not wish to speculate until he has learned all of the facts.”