Utah Sen. Mike Lee accused Democrats of exploiting special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election in order to undermine the Trump administration.
Lee made the comments Wednesday during the Senate Judiciary Committee’s hearing with Attorney General William Barr about the investigation.
The Utah Republican cited several instances in which Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and California Rep. Eric Swalwell, as well as former deputy FBI director Andrew McCabe, suggested President Donald Trump may be acting as a Russian agent or in Russia’s best interest.
Lee asked Barr if there is any evidence to back up such claims. In each case, Barr said he was not aware of any evidence.
The president’s alleged collusion with Russia has come up over and over again in the media and in Congress, Lee said.
“But what we’ve heard is as baseless as any conspiracy theory that we’ve seen in politics, any that I can think of,” Lee said. “The only difference here is that the purveyors of this conspiracy were in many cases prominent members of the opposition party. That’s concerning.”
Lee said Democrats have “exploited the Mueller probe — its mere existence — to spread baseless innuendo in an effort to undermine the legitimacy of the 2016 election and the effectiveness of this administration.”
Democrats on the committee criticized Barr’s handling of the report’s release and accused the attorney general of mischaracterizing the report’s findings. Sen Mazie Hirono, D-HI, accused Barr of lying to Congress and called on him to resign.
Utah’s senior senator has made several national television appearances in recent weeks to promote his new book and defend Trump.
Lee said on Fox News Tuesday night that Mueller conducted a “very thorough” investigation over nearly two years, but said Democrats are “losing their minds” over the report’s conclusions.
— Fox News @ Night (@foxnewsnight) May 1, 2019
On CBS’s “Face the Nation” on April 21, Lee said it would be a mistake for Democrats to pursue impeachment. He also said there was “not a scintilla of evidence” in the Mueller report to support accusations that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to win the 2016 election.