Himes talks wiretapping, Russia allegations
A member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence since 2013, 4th District U.S. Rep. Jim Himes will play a key role in allegations involving the current and prior presidential administrations.
Himes and his colleagues may investigate allegations of improper contact between Russia and the Trump campaign and administration, and new allegations leveled by President Trump that his building was tapped by former President Obama.
“With respect to the accusations that were leveled on Saturday, that’s a hugely dangerous thing,” Himes told reporters about tweets by the president.
“For a sitting president to call his predecessor a felon, which is what he did, and do it without any evidence, and do it in a way to suggest that the FBI or the security services might be in the business of helping bring down another campaign, those are all serious charges. And it’s sad that we’ve gotten to a place where we sort of have a day’s worth of discomfort when the president of the United States is doing that, but this is where Donald Trump has taken us,” Himes said during a reporters roundtable in Stamford Tuesday.
“So here’s what I think. I sit on the committee that will investigate all things Russia-related. The president has said that there were wiretaps on Trump Tower. I look forward to seeing the evidence,” he said.
Himes said if the wiretapping allegation turns out to be true, “I want to know why.”
Himes said he was puzzled by Trump’s tweet because it was “self-incriminating.”
“The president doesn’t have the authority to order a wiretap under the law. So one of two things is happening. Donald Trump is making this up based on some Breitbart story, or there was surveillance of some kind at Trump Tower and some kind of judge, either regular court or a FISA court judge, would have agreed that there was probable cause for that warrant to be awarded,” Himes said, taking a position that is popular among Democrats.
This prompted questions regarding the need for a special prosecutor or counsel to be appointed to take on the issue.
“This is a misunderstanding often out there. Special prosecutors prosecute. They investigate a crime. There is, as of yet, no indictment, we’re not at a point where we can say a crime was committed and therefore appoint a special prosecutor,” Himes said.
“We’ve already seen, in the last couple of weeks, the chairmen of the two congressional committees come out and try to knock down stories. We’re all in the political fray. So when I stand up and say my belief is this, they’ll say it’s because you’re a Democrat. We should take that off the table,” Himes said.
Himes addressed bipartisanship at the start of the roundtable.
“I guess I wish we were on to things where I suspect we could find some common ground, but we are where we are. I’m not president of the United States,” he said.
Himes has also been vocal about recent stories surrounding Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Sessions came under fire after it was revealed he had two meetings with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak while working for the Trump campaign. In hearings in front of Congress, Sessions said such meetings never took place. Since that time, Himes has called for Sessions to “step aside.”
“If this had been the secretary of the Department of Agriculture that wasn’t straightforward on some issue, I probably wouldn’t have said he should step aside, and I mean step aside,” Himes said.
“Everything we’re talking about, whether it’s Jim Comey of the FBI wanting to get permission to correct the president on his tweets, that goes through the attorney general’s office,” he said.
Himes added that appointment of a special counsel, or any sort of investigation on Russia, also goes through the attorney general’s office.
“I don’t think he needs to forever resign, I just think he should vacate the role as long as there are questions about you running the key nexus of this investigation,” Himes said.