KUSA - Rep. Mike Coffman didn't mince words about his newest GOP colleague in House, Greg Gianforte of Montana-- who won a special election the day after allegedly beating up a news reporter.
"I can't believe that he turned on that reporter, and then I think the fact is he tried to cover it up," Coffman said. "I'm just surprised that he snapped-- completely snapped."
Pressed on whether there should be consequences for Gianforte when he arrives on Capitol Hill, Coffman predicted Gianforte would "get lectured" but be allowed to caucus with the GOP majority.
"Probably had it been done earlier, I think it would have cost him the race," Coffman said.
Most voters in Montana voted early in the special election.
Coffman rejected the theory that pummeling a member of the press would have helped Gianforte's political chances.
"I don't think so. I hope not. That would be awful if it did," Coffman said.
Coffman, who voted no on the GOP healthcare bill that passed the House, reaffirmed his decision to vote against it because of concerns about coverage for pre-existing conditions and the fact that the CBO hadn't scored the bill yet.
"We still have a long ways to go with the legislation," Coffman said. "The Senate I think will make big modifications of it. They'll reflect on the CBO score."
Coffman said he's pleased at the decision to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate alleged ties between Russia and President Trump's election campaign. He'd rather see all of the investigation handled that way, rather than tin the House and Senate intelligence committees.
"I think the most dangerous place to be in Washington is between a member of one of these investigative committees and a TV camera," Coffman said. "It is so politicized."
In the wake of a pardon from Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colorado,) Coffman said ICE needs to let Cuban-born green card holder Rene Lima-Marin go.
"We can debate whether or not [Lima-Marin] should have been pardoned, but the fact is he has been pardoned of the crime," Coffman said. "My view legally is that the deportation order should be nullified by virtue of the fact that his record is expunged."
More broadly, Coffman said immigrants in his district "should be concerned" about increased enforcement under the Trump administration.
At the same time, Coffman defended the Trump administration's actions.
"Where the burden falls right now I think is not on this administration. This administration is enforcing the law," Coffman said. "They're making both sides uncomfortable in Washington, D.C. by enforcing the rule of law. Before, it wasn't enforced-- or it was selectively enforced, and both sides were complacent on the left and the right. Now, I think neither side can be complacent."
"[President Trump] is lighting a fire for Congress to act," Coffman said.
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