U.S. Rep. Bill Flores, R-Bryan, said he is unsure if special counsel Robert Mueller’s team represents “the blind scales of justice” as it investigates Russia’s role in the 2016 election and possible collusion with President Donald Trump’s campaign.

Flores said he would not consider Trump attempting to remove Mueller a move worthy of impeachment, but did not recommend it, either.

“Look, he has the right to remove him,” Waco’s congressman said after speaking at the State of the Nation luncheon hosted by the Greater Waco Chamber of Commerce. “I don’t think it would be good, optically speaking. Now that we’re starting to see the ideological backgrounds of the roster of people (who are) part of the Mueller team, you’ve got to be somewhat concerned as to whether or not it’s going to be a transparent and fair process. That said, I wouldn’t advise the president to try to remove. I just think it would not send a good signal.”

Some on Mueller’s team have made political donations to Democrats, The New York Times has reported, and under Justice Department rules, campaign donations do not create a “political relationship.”

The Times also reported last week that Mueller dismissed an FBI agent this summer after an investigation found that he sent text messages showing possible bias toward Hillary Clinton and against Trump.

“Again, if you look at the roster of people (Mueller has) hired to help him, you can’t be sure that they all represent the blind scales of justice,” Flores said. “But at the end of the day, all of this stuff has to go to a court somewhere. So we’ll assume that it’s going to work out the right way through the court system.”

Earlier in the day, while speaking to Waco High School students, Flores rebuked the hiring of Michael Flynn, Trump’s former national security adviser. Flynn on Friday pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI about his communication with Russian officials.

“He should have never hired Michael Flynn to be part of the White House, and history shows that to be right,” said Flores, the former chairman of the influential Republican Study Committee. “There were just some elements about Michael Flynn that were not representative of clean, constitutional government and that’s about all I’m going to say on it … I don’t think that’s going to end up hurting the president. The president should be quiet about that, but he’s talking about it.”

The situation could become Trump’s Watergate if he’s not careful, Flores said at the high school, referring to the political scandal during the 1972 presidential campaign that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon.

Dale Mantey, a Rockdale Democrat looking to unseat Flores next year, said he would consider Trump firing Mueller an impeachable offense.

“I think any American would be rightfully concerned … Unlike Bill Flores, I actually have faith and trust in our Department of Justice to do their job,” Mantey said. “When I say ‘concerned,’ we need to be cognizant of what’s going on here. This isn’t a story that’s going away. This isn’t a political story. Political stories don’t last this long.”

Speaking to local business, education and city leaders at the luncheon, Flores heralded Waco’s recent growth, pointing to rapid downtown development and scientific advancements from the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative.

GOP efforts toward regulatory and tax reform, Flores said, would bolster such projects. Representatives from the House and the Senate will meet over the next two weeks to iron out the differences in the tax bills passed by both chambers, he said.

Flores predicted the controversial $1.4 trillion addition to the national debt will be plugged by revenues to the gross domestic product. The Joint Committee on Taxation has reported that the Senate bill would bring about $400 billion in economic growth. However, Flores said outside experts say revenue would plug the trillion-dollar gap.

Baylor officials have balked at the House bill because it would tax tuition waivers and stipends for graduate and doctoral students. Flores, who opposes that aspect of the bill, said he believes the exemption will remain in the bill lawmakers will send to Trump’s desk.

Staff writer Shelly Conlon contributed to this report.

Phillip Ericksen joined the Tribune-Herald in March 2015 as a sports copy editor. That November, he joined the news team. He has covered higher education, city hall, politics and crime.

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