WARWICK, R.I. (AP) - Former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee said Friday he remains skeptical about the investigation into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election as he considers whether to launch a bid to regain his old U.S. Senate seat.
Chafee, a Democrat, told The Associated Press he doesn’t think the investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller will “amount to anything,” and he regrets the country is spending valuable resources on it. He said he does not support legislation to protect Mueller’s job, which the Senate Judiciary Committee approved Thursday, but would not move to stop the investigation.
“Unless there’s some evidence, it’s time to wrap this thing up. It’s not going anywhere. We’re wasting money,” he said.
Chafee, a former Republican, is known for being the lone GOP senator to vote against the Iraq War resolution in 2002. He drew on that vote, saying the public should be skeptical about information from the intelligence community.
U.S. intelligence agencies have said the Russian government interfered in the election to benefit then-presidential candidate Donald Trump.
Chafee lost his Republican Senate seat in 2006 to Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, who is now running for a third term. Chafee won the governor’s seat in 2010 as an independent before switching to the Democratic Party while in office. He ran as a Democrat in the 2016 presidential primaries and now says he is weighing a challenge to Whitehouse in the Democratic primary for the Senate.
Chafee’s announcement on WPRO-AM on Wednesday that he would likely run for Senate caught people by surprise. He previously had said he was considering a run for governor, although he had made recent public comments indicating he was not planning a run for that office.
He said Friday he has received a lot of support since announcing the possible Senate run. He expects to make a final decision next week.
Chafee has been skeptical of the Russia probe since at least last summer, when he called it a “headscratcher” and a “mainstream media attack” on Trump, a Republican.
Chafee said he believes the Democratic National Committee and the media are trying to “change the channel” with the focus on Russia after Hillary Clinton’s defeat.
While he said he believes the Russians tried to meddle in the country, he added that “they meddle everywhere” and he doesn’t believe they swung the election.
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