Cortez-Masto: Let special prosecutor do his job

U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto speaks Saturday, April 22, 2017, during Academy Information Day at Rancho High School. (Justin Grant/KSNV)

Does U.S. Senator Catherine Cortez Masto think there was collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia?

“I can’t say what happened. That’s why we need that independent investigation to go through, gather the information, the memos, subpoena people in, talk to them, get the evidence that they need to really find out what happened,” the Nevada Democrat told News 3.

Even by the standards set by this young and unpredictable administration, the last two weeks in Washington have seen tumult and controversy unlike anything yet in the presidency of Donald Trump.

Last week, he fired the FBI Director who was heading up an investigation into possible Trump campaign collusion with Moscow; then news emerged fired FBI chief James Comey had memos claiming the President asked him to back off another target, former national security director Michael Flynn, also under a Russia-tinged investigation. Two days ago, the deputy attorney general named a special prosecutor, former FBI Director Robert Mueller, to head up an independent investigation of all things Russia.

The President says there’s no collusion and the investigation is, in his words, “a witch hunt.”

RELATED LINK | Nevada D.C. delegation calls for investigations as Trump controversies pile up

On Friday, I caught up with Cortez Masto as she toured a North Las Vegas non-profit which trains people for jobs. The day before, in Washington, she received a senators-only briefing from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the guy who put Mueller on the Russia case.

What did Rosenstein tell them, I asked?

“He’s going to let this special prosecutor go wherever he needs to go, going to start with the Russia investigation into the election process here, whatever roots it has, wherever the evidence takes them they will follow that,” the Senator told News 3.

“This is such an important issue that is impacting our country,” she continued. “The fact that a foreign government – Russia – whether they hacked into our election process and who was involved in that – that investigation needs to go forward, and we need to protect the integrity and independence of it and a special prosecutor will do just that.”

Cortez Masto lamented the fact that these swirling controversies are now bogging down Washington.

“We also have to continue with good governing. We also have to move forward with the issues that people are dealing with in this country,” she says.

One issue on her plate is one important to Nevada: our budding – no pun intended – marijuana industry, which promises to grow now that voters have approved recreational pot. Nevada already allows medicinal marijuana, but marijuana businesses are banned from the banking system because the federal government classifies the substance as a dangerous drug. Cortez Masto has joined other senators proposing a bill that would allow marijuana businesses access to banks.

RELATED LINK | Banking still an issue with legal marijuana businesses in Nevada

“I have concerns about the cash business of these establishments, whether they’re medicinal marijuana or recreational,” Cortez Masto told News 3. “They should be able to engage and be able to work with banks, just like everyone else.”

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a former federal prosecutor, is no fan of easing restrictions on marijuana and the industry worries that Trump may rollback the let-live approach that came under President Obama.

“I will tell you I’ve been very adamant – this is a states’ rights issue to me,” Cortez Masto says. “There are many states that support the recreational and medical marijuana, like Nevada, and they should be respected.”

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