The appointment this evening of a special prosecutor by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to investigate the Russia interference scandal prompted immediate reaction in New Jersey’s political establishment.
Veteran defense attorney Joe Hayden told InsiderNJ he agrees with Governor Christie’s assessment that obstruction of justice case are tough to prove, but disagreed that the evidence is scant in this particular case. Apparently Rosenstein sees what Hayden’s sees, as the political world absorbed news of the memo by former FBI Director James Comey following his February 14 meeting with Donald Trump in which he says the President told him “I hope you can let this go.”
“This is the first step toward the impeachment process,” Hayden told InsiderNJ. “The appointment by Rosenstein of former FBI Director Robert Mueller is a positive development for the integrity of the investigation. Yes, obstruction cases are hard to prove, but if the allegations of Comey are true, they’re on third base.”
The Trump administration reportedly received less than an hour’s heads-up time that Mueller would be assuming the role of an independent investigator examining the connections between Trump world and Russia and how and if those connections impacted last year’s presidential elections.
Hayden said the rapidity with which events are unfolding reminds him of Watergate and the last days of President Richard M. Nixon.
“At the end of the day, impeachment is a political more than a legal process,” said the attorney. “Legally, an impeachable offense must be established but ultimately there must be a political desire by Congress to impeach.”
For his part, U.S. Senator Cory Booker (D-NJ) reacted similarly to the news of Special Prosecutor Mueller’s appointment to the case.
“This is an important step in the right direction,” Booker said. “We must get to the bottom of Russia’s dangerous and unprecedented interference in our election to hold accountable those responsible and ensure it doesn’t happen again – it’s a matter of national security. An independent special prosecutor is vital to that imperative.”
In February, Booker was one of the first Senators to call for a special prosecutor in a letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-7) released the following statement on Mueller being named special counsel for the Russia probe:
“Mr. Mueller will be an excellent addition to the Department of Justice probe already underway. He’s respected on both sides of the aisle, which should inspire bipartisan confidence in the ongoing investigation. There can no interruption in getting to the truth. The American people deserve answers on Russia as soon as a thorough investigation can be completed.”
Like Booker, U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) was especially gratified by the news.
“Earlier this year, I stood on the floor of the Senate and said that I believed the only way to ensure that the American people get the answers they demand about Russian efforts to influence our presidential election is through a truly independent, non-partisan investigation,” said New Jersey’s senior senator. “In just the last few days, my office has received thousands of phone calls and emails from New Jerseyans who are rightly worried and losing confidence in the integrity of this process.
“With Republicans in the majority refusing to support the establishment of an independent commission, the authority exercised by the Deputy Attorney General this evening is an important step toward restoring people’s confidence,” Menendez added. “What’s important now is that we make certain this investigation has the necessary resources, free of conflicts of interests and shielded from partisan politics.”