While today's Senate Intelligence Committee hearing with ex-FBI director James Comey was a blockbuster start, committee chair Richard Burr, R-North Carolina, and ranking member Mark Warner, D-Virginia, stressed that the investigation is “nowhere near the end.”
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Speaking to reporters following the hearing, they said that next week they will be coordinating with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to develop a “clear path” toward investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election.
“One message I hope all Americans will take home is recognizing how significant Russian interference in our election was,” Warner said.
Following the hearing, several other legislators gave their reaction to Comey’s enthralling testimony.
Some Republicans defended Trump, some agreed he was vindicated
Emerging from the hearing, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, one of the president's fiercest defenders at today's hearing, told ABC News the most explosive moment was when Comey revealed he intentionally had a friend leak his memo to try to force the appointment of a special counsel to oversee the investigation.
Asked if what he heard today amounts to obstruction of justice, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told ABC News, "I don't believe there is [evidence of that]."
“You know, I think we’re in the midst of an investigation now and we need to look at the memos that the FBI director dictated to be used to prepare his testimony and there’s a lot of information we need but we haven’t concluded our investigation,” he said.
Asked whether Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, believes the president’s interactions with Comey were inappropriate, Ryan largely chalked it up to the president’s inexperience.
“The president's new at this,” Ryan said. “He's new to government and so he probably wasn't steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI and White House. He's just new to this.”
The chairwoman of the Republican National Committee, Ronna McDaniel, said, “Today’s testimony proved what we have known all along: President Trump is not under investigation, there’s still no evidence of collusion, and he did not hinder the investigations in any way.
“Nobody thinks more of James Comey than James Comey, and his testimony today was simply a last-ditch attempt to save face with the American people,” she added.
Several Democrats said it increased their concern that Trump obstructed justice
Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-New Mexico, stopped short of saying Trump's behavior amounts to obstruction of justice but said, "I think there’s enough there that we should be very, very concerned about what went on."
Heinrich added, “I think Bob Mueller will be able to answer that question and I trust him to answer it accurately."
Before heading into the hearing, Sen. Chris Coons, D-Delaware, said “certainly there is compelling evidence in the written testimony” that obstruction of justice may have occurred, but noted that “that's a conclusion that will be reached by prosecutors.”
From the other side of the Capitol, Rep. Joe Crowley, D-New York, said in a statement, “Former FBI Director James Comey confirmed today that President Trump attempted to use the power of the White House to pressure the FBI to drop investigations into former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s connections to Russia. This should deeply concern anyone invested in the future of American democracy.”
Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Connecticut, said the contents of Comey’s testimony are "very concerning," adding, “every day, it seems like the walls are closing in on this president.”
Sens. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, Bernie Sanders, I-Vermont, and Kamala Harris, D-California, tweeted similar concerns.
#ComeyHearing reconfirms Russia interfered with the U.S. presidential election. Special Counsel investigation is more important than ever.— Ed Markey (@SenMarkey) June 8, 2017
What we learned from Comey was deeply troubling. I'm more concerned than ever about Trump’s attempts to derail the Russia investigation.— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) June 8, 2017
Today, former FBI Director Comey affirmed under oath that Mueller should have full independence. I agree, we owe it to the American people.— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) June 8, 2017
Calls for an independent commission
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-California, said in a statement that Comey’s testimony revealed the “frightening reality” of Trump’s “contempt for justice” and argued that an outside commission is necessary in addition to the congressional and Justice Department investigations.
“Instead of protecting our democracy from Putin, President Trump worked relentlessly to obstruct the investigation of Michael Flynn and his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia. Nothing less than the integrity and security of our democracy is at stake,” Pelosi said.
Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, called for an independent commission and said, “It is time for Republican leadership in Congress to acknowledge publicly how dangerous the president’s actions and rhetoric have been to American rule of law -- the very foundation of our nation.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Bradley Byrne, R-Alabama, tweeted that the hearing was not productive, but just a “media circus.”
Today’s testimony by James #Comey was more of a media circus than any sort of productive hearing.— Rep. Bradley Byrne (@RepByrne) June 8, 2017
ABC News' Benjamin Siegel and John Parkinson contributed to this report.