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Rep. Coffman On Where The Administration Goes From Here


Congressman Mike Coffman, a Republican from Colorado's 6th District, was one of just seven congressional Republicans to call for an independent investigation into allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump presidential campaign before the surprise appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel last Wednesday. And he joins us now on the line. Congressman, good morning.

MIKE COFFMAN: Good morning.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: So as you hoped, there is now an independent investigation underway. But you also called on the House and Senate intelligence committees to end their investigations. Can you tell us why, sir?

COFFMAN: Well, I think - not necessarily to end, but I think that it's much better. It certainly diminishes their role. And I did - you know - and I thought that certainly on the House side that there were certainly - there was certainly evidence of those investigations being overly politicized with individuals posturing. I often joke that the most dangerous place to be in Washington, D.C., was between one of the members of those oversight investigating committees and a TV camera.

And so it is, I think - I'm so relieved that there is a special prosecutor or an independent counsel that is chosen that is really respected by both sides to really get down to the bottom of it and to see if, in fact, crimes were committed. And what is extraordinary about this process is that it does - that the special prosecutor literally does go dark, I mean, until they do find evidence that there was, in fact, a crime committed. Then they'll certainly go public with that.

And so I think it gives more breathing space where the - we're not dependent upon congressional committees to do this investigation, that it's being done professionally outside of the Congress, that Congress can focus on its work in terms of, you know, fixing issues with health care, reforming the tax code, repairing our crumbling infrastructure.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: When you say breathing space, I'm assuming that you mean that this has been a distraction. It seems like it sucked all the oxygen in the room from the Republicans' agenda. How concerned are you about the president - how the president has handled himself this past week? There have been a lot of angry tweets, a lot of accusations thrown.

COFFMAN: For just this week (laughter)? Concerned about the president from Day 1. I think he's - I think he's so - he stumbled coming out of the block. And as far as I'm concerned, he's never recovered. He is - he's not been able to make the pivot between being candidate Trump and being President Trump, and he needs to be able to do that. And I worry about his ability to do that.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Will you try and legislate in spite of the president instead of with him? I mean, it seems that he is distracting from what the Republican Congress is trying to do.

COFFMAN: Oh, absolutely. I think we'll move forward without that. I think that the president can certainly - I mean, it would be helpful, obviously, if the president makes that pivot - and I certainly hope that he does - where he's certainly more deliberate, more thoughtful in his approach - certainly gets off this Twitter stuff (laughter) - where, you know, I think that, as commander in chief - and I've said this before - that the men and women who serve this country in uniform want to see a president focused on the fact that we're a nation at war and not in a Twitter war with Rosie O'Donnell.

And so I think - I hope that this president can self-correct - this presidency can stabilize. But the Congress needs to move forward with policies that matter to the American people. And the president is doing something important right now in having visited Saudi Arabia - and to strengthen our alliance with Saudi Arabia, to counter that Iranian - Syrian, certainly under Assad, and Russia axis of power that is strengthening.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: You know, you're talking about Twitter, but there were reports last week that the president disclosed sensitive intelligence information from Israel to Russian diplomats in an Oval Office meeting. You're a veteran. Do you have any concerns about the president's national security judgment, just briefly?

COFFMAN: Well, I'm not sure why he was meeting with the Russians anyway. I think he better learn that they're not our friends, No. 1. I mean in the Oval Office. And No. 2, I think the president lacks discipline, and he needs to, you know, get that. He - I think he's still - and again, in seeing himself as a candidate Trump, one of the things I think that his basis of what appreciated about him was the fact that he sort of spoke whatever was on his mind. Well, I don't think that works in the Oval Office. It doesn't work as president. You have to be very disciplined. You have to be very deliberative. Every word matters, and this president really needs to tighten up.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's Republican Congressman Mike Coffman. He's in his fifth term representing Colorado's 6th District. Thank you so much.

COFFMAN: All right. Great to be with you this morning. Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.