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Democrats say special counsel doesn’t go far enough

Even as Democrats praised the Justice Department’s decision to appoint Robert Mueller as special counsel, they continued to push for an independent commission.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), the House minority leader, issued a statement that said, “A special prosecutor is the first step, but it cannot be the last. … [Mueller] cannot take the place of a truly independent, outside commission that is completely free from the Trump Administration’s meddling.”

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), while still calling for an independent commission, acknowledged that Mueller’s appointment may have “taken some of the pressure off” Republicans to get on board.

“They hadn’t been signing on already, so I think they will say, well this is taken some of the pressure off for them,” Cummings said. “But let’s be clear, the Republicans cannot afford to stand on the sidelines and allow anybody to do anything to be above the law, none of us can.”

Meanwhile,  Rep. Adam B. Schiff (Calif.), the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, added that Mueller’s appointment in no way affects the need for an independent commission.

“An independent commission doesn’t govern the FBI investigation, an independent commission doesn’t make charging decisions,” Schiff argued.

“The value an independent commission adds is you have a body that is truly independent of any political consideration. And also has all the resources it needs and a single focus on the oversight of what Russia did, how we need to respond in the future, and it brings that political independence and staff and resources on task. So those are two different needs, and I think they’re complementary, not in competition with each other.”

Other Democrats agree.

The latest on Trump, Comey and Russia: How key Washington players are reacting

The White House is searching for a new FBI director, after President Trump dismissed James Comey from that post May 9. Since the firing, The Washington Post broke the news Monday that Trump shared highly classified intelligence with Russian officials. And Tuesday, the New York Times reported and other outlets confirmed that Trump asked the FBI to drop its probe into then-national security adviser Michael Flynn and pursue leak cases.