Sen. Ben Sasse believes special counsel Robert Mueller is the right man for the job and that his investigation into Russian interference in America's 2016 presidential election is providing a service to the country.
"We are really fortunate to have him leading this investigation," Nebraska's Republican senator said during an interview over lunch at a small cafe in Ashland.
Twenty-five foreign indictments already have been issued, and that's "a really big deal," Sasse said, "and when you layer on what some of us who have participated in intelligence briefings know, it's even a bigger deal."
"One of the real tragedies (in the partisan political battle over the ongoing probe) is that it somehow has become a proxy for who you worked for in the 2016 election," Sasse said.
"And that's a big mistake."
This is not about President Donald Trump or 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, Sasse said.
The issue is whether Russia interfered in America's presidential election, Sasse said.
And the answer is yes.
In the intelligence community, Sasse said, "there is zero debate on whether Russia is attacking the United States."
"There's lots of big and important stuff coming out of the investigation," he said. "I'm glad Mueller is there."
Sasse's remarks at Cheri O's, a downtown cafe on Silver Street in Ashland, expressed strong support for the special counsel at a time when the president continues to ratchet up pressure to call a halt to the investigation.
"This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now before it continues to stain our country any further," Trump tweeted earlier this month.
Russia and President Vladimir Putin have two "very clear objectives," Sasse said. "He wants to weaken the resolve and ability of NATO and weaken American trust in our own institutions.
"His goal is to make us hate and distrust each other," Sasse said. "And he wants to sow seeds of doubt."
Both the president and CNN "really screw up what Mueller is investigating" by turning the focus on Trump rather than on the issue of Russian interference in the election, he said.
That misdirected focus immediately makes the issue turn "tribal," Sasse said, rather than be viewed as an issue of national concern.
"In a general way, this is too bureaucratic and slow," he said, but the probe needs to be completed rather than cut short.
Mueller, he said, might "go quiet" for a time in advance of the November congressional elections. He's not going to make the same mistakes that former FBI Director James Comey made in talking about reopening an investigation into Clinton's emails less than two weeks before the 2016 election, Sasse said.