Sunday, July 22, 2018
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  • From the staff of the Tampa Bay Times

Gov. Rick Scott: ‘I wouldn’t dismiss’ Robert Mueller

ST. PETERSBURG — Gov. Rick Scott said Saturday night he would not dismiss Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor investigating Russian interference in the presidential election.

President Donald Trump is "going to decide what he wants to do. He gets to make that decision," Scott said, then added, "I wouldn't dismiss him."

Trump has repeatedly denied reports that he has or is considering firing Mueller. But the recent FBI raid on the home and office of Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen set off a new round of tweets critical of Mueller's investigation and reignited speculation on the future of the special prosecutor.

Just two days ago, Scott sidestepped a question about whether he would support legislation to protect Mueller at a rally for his nascent U.S. Senate campaign.

"What's important in regards to, when the federal government is reviewing things, we as Americans need to know what's going on," the Republican said Thursday. "It needs to be complete transparency. And we need to make sure, whatever investigation it is, the facts get out there."

Scott's Democratic rival, U.S. Senator Bill Nelson, D-Fla., supports such legislation.

Saturday's remarks on Mueller came after Scott delivered the keynote speech at the Pinellas County Republican Party Lincoln Day Dinner, the end to a long week for Scott. It started Monday by launching his bid for Senate but also included the sudden death of a close aide to the governor, Jeri Bustamante, in a boating accident.

Scott's speech Saturday hit many of the same notes as his campaign stops all week: emphasizing job growth during his tenure, recasting himself as an outsider after eight years as governor and making a pitch for term limits for Congress.

Unlike his Monday appearance in Orlando, Scott did not play up his administration's role in helping Puerto Rico after last year's hurricane season. And he also added a call to arms to Republicans ahead of what he expects won't be a "cheap or easy" election.

"If we show up in November and bust our butt and tell our story … then we will win in a landslide," Scott said. "There's no reason we can't win this election."

As was the case in Orlando, Scott made no mention of his party's leader, Trump, a figure who promises to loom large over the election.

After, though, he said he supported Trump's decision to launch missile strikes into Syria on Friday night without first seeking authorization from Congress.

"In this case he did the right thing," Scott said. "(Syrian President Bashar al-)Assad has been consistently killing his citizens. I think the president acted within his powers and he did the right thing."

Asked what is Congress' role in authorizing military intervention, Scott demurred.

"I think there's federal statutes and there's the constitution with regard to what the President's authority is," he said.

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