Speed Reads

The Manafort Indictment

Congressional Republicans are divided over the Mueller probe

As Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation takes a turn for the serious with the indictment of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, congressional Republicans have not spoken in a unified voice — if they have spoken at all.

Indiana Rep. Jim Banks (R) was among the first to comment after Monday's news that Manafort was indeed Mueller's first target, reaffirming his support for Mueller's independent probe:

Likewise, Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-N.Y.) issued a brief statement on Facebook. "In light of today's news on the Mueller probe, I wanted to express my continued support for this investigation," she wrote. "The investigation into possible Russian interference in our election cycle is a serious matter and it's important for our political process to allow it to continue so that we may get the facts." Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) on Fox News Sunday also encouraged his fellow Republicans to "give [Mueller] a chance to do his job," calling Mueller "a pretty apolitical guy."

At the other end of the spectrum, Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) said Friday — before Manafort was identified as the indictment target — that "Mueller is compromised by his apparent conflict of interest in being close with [former FBI Director] James Comey" and therefore should resign.

Apparently attempting to split the difference was Wisconsin Rep. Sean Duffy (R), who said on CNN on Monday that although the indictment is "not good" for Manafort, it not fair to say Manafort's actions should "taint" President Trump. "If [Manafort] had these interactions before the campaign, that doesn't mean he brought Donald Trump into his mess," Duffy argued. Similarly, Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said Sunday she's seen evidence of Russian election meddling but not yet collusion by the Trump campaign.