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Former U.S. Attorney: Special Prosecutor Needed For Russia Inquiry

Gage Skidmore, Flickr Commons (CC BY-SA 2.0)

A former U.S. attorney from Kentucky said in order to keep the public’s trust, President Donald Trump needs to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate Russia’s meddling in last year’s presidential election.

Kerry Harvey served as the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky between 2010 and January of this year.

In an interview on Friday, Harvey said that Trump’s abrupt firing of FBI director James Comey adds weight to the argument for a special prosecutor.

“I think most people would agree that it has not been a pristine process that’s going to inspire confidence in the American people,” Harvey said. “Those fears and concerns can be put to rest if the investigation proceeds in a way that is seen as complete and thorough and independent from this point forward.”

Trump fired Comey earlier this week, saying it was necessary for a “new beginning” at the FBI. The move has raised questions about the president’s motives, as Comey was leading the agency’s investigation into Russian interference and whether members of the Trump campaign knew about it.

The White House initially defended Comey’s removal with recommendations penned by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

According to the Washington Post, Trump ordered the pair to write the memos, though Trump told NBC News that he was going to fire Comey regardless of the recommendations.

Harvey said Rosenstein, who is heading up the Department of Justice’s investigation into Russian meddling, needs to be replaced by a special prosecutor.

“I know Mr. Rosenstein personally. I have complete confidence in his integrity,” Harvey said. “But it’s just incredibly important that when this investigation is completed that folks of all political persuasions have confidence in the result, whatever that result may be.”

AG Sessions recused himself from the Russia inquiry after revelations that he hadn’t disclosed contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

Harvey, who was appointed by former President Barack Obama, also called for Comey’s replacement to have bipartisan support, with at least half of Democrats in the Senate.

Kentucky’s Republican Senators and U.S. representatives defended Trump’s firing of Comey earlier this week.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell dismissed requests for an independent prosecutor, saying it would “only serve to impede the current work being done.”

Ryland Barton is the Managing Editor for Collaboratives for Kentucky Public Radio, a group of public radio stations including WKMS, WFPL in Louisville, WEKU in Richmond and WKYU in Bowling Green. A native of Lexington, Ryland most recently served as the Capitol Reporter for Kentucky Public Radio. He has covered politics and state government for NPR member stations KWBU in Waco and KUT in Austin.
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