As conservative attacks mount, Colorado’s Mike Coffman backs Robert Mueller in his probe of Trump

Robert Mueller in 2012. (Photo by Medill DSC via Flicker:Creative Commons)

Amid a battle cry by some conservatives following reports that special counsel Robert Mueller is investigating President Donald Trump for obstruction of justice, Colorado GOP Congressman Mike Coffman says he has confidence in the former FBI chief.

“I think Mueller will do a professional job,” Coffman said Wednesday evening.

The fifth-term congressman from Aurora, who is a member of a bipartisan caucus called the Problem Solvers, told a caller in a telephone town hall last night that he doesn’t believe his colleagues in the House or Senate can adequately handle inquiries into TrumpWorld.

“I think it’s such a zoo, this whole political circus of these committees looking into the administration and Russia and the potential obstruction of justice and those issues,” he said. “And that’s why I called for an independent counsel or a special prosecutor early. That’s where it needs to be moved. These investigations— since we now have an independent counsel that is in place, Mr. Mueller— that’s where this needs to take place.”

Coffman called those on congressional investigative committees “grandstanding politicians,” adding, “the most dangerous place in Washington, D.C. is between one of these people and a TV camera.”

Coffman’s defense of Mueller came fewer than 12 hours before former House Speaker Newt Gingrich blasted Mueller as the “tip of the deep state spear” aimed at President Trump.

Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway had earlier questioned Mueller’s independence.

Trump himself went on a tweetstorm after The Washington Post reported Mueller is allegedly looking into whether the president obstructed justice.

During his tele-town-hall last night, Coffman also distanced himself from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who testified Tuesday before the Senate about Trump’s ousting of FBI director James Comey as the bureau’s probe into Russia ramped up.

“Sessions wouldn’t have been my choice for attorney general,” Coffman said.

If it sounds like Coffman is crawfishing from an administration to which his critics consistently seek to tie him, he didn’t give any reason Wednesday to muffle it. When a caller asked about immigration reform, Coffman pointed out how his position on the issue puts him at odds with plenty in his party.  

While he is opposed to illegal immigration, Coffman said, he also understands that for decades certain immigration laws haven’t been enforced or have been enforced selectively.*

“The fact is that we’ve had a lot of people who have been here a long time who haven’t violated any laws other than immigration laws,” Coffman said. He wants to allow those in the country illegally to “come out of the shadows, get a criminal background check, and get a legal status that would allow [them] to work and live in this country without fear of deportation,” he said. 

At another point in the hourlong conference call, Coffman told a caller, “I think climate change is real.”

On health care, Coffman said he did not vote for the House version of Trump-RyanCare because it didn’t protect pre-existing conditions. He said there should be public transparency in the process of drafting a new law in the Senate.

Asked about the American student loan system, Coffman said he hopes for more skills-based training and a merit-based approach to loans. His late father never went to college and started a small business after learning to repair air conditioners, he said. For some, he said, paying for college can be a “path to poverty.”

On a day when a shooter with left-wing views fired on Republican congressmen at a baseball field outside D.C., Coffman said it shouldn’t take a tragedy to bring both parties together. When a caller suggested members of Congress shouldn’t literally sit on opposite sides of the aisle on Capitol Hill but rather mix in with each other seated alphabetically, Coffman told her she had a  “very good” idea.

“Compromise has become a pejorative,” he said. “Compromise doesn’t mean giving up principles. What compromise is, is advancing your principles albeit at a slower pace.” Being an ideological purest is fine, he said, but it doesn’t go far in getting things done.

Coffman, who is up for reelection in 2018, said he plans to hold an in-person town hall in his suburban Denver district some time in August.

*CORRECTION: A typo in a previous version of this story omitted a word, which made it look like Coffman was opposed to immigration. He said he is opposed to illegal immigration. His tele-town-hall event was Wednesday. 

Photo via Medill DC for Creative Commons in Flickr.