As much of the nation fixed on the Russia probe results, lawmakers from Tennessee responded on Thursday by asking Americans to move forward and focus on other key issues.
Congressman Chuck Fleischmann spoke of the need to achieve more "civility" in both politics and everyday conversation during the Rotary Club of Chattanooga meeting. While he didn't directly acknowledge the report, he said that Russia is dangerous, but China is a bigger concern.
"[Democrats] thought this Mueller report was going to be an 'I got ya,' and it wasn't, so I really hope we can move beyond that," Fleischmann told the Times Free Press after the meeting. "When you look at the magnitude, the size of the Chinese economy, where they are going militarily, the resources that they have available to them — vis-a-vis the Russia threat — Russia does not have the resources to compete with the United States. Sadly, China does, and is and will, and they will be our main competitor."
Fleischmann said he was unaware that Thursday's report mentioned a fake Twitter account the Russia-based Internet Research Agency used to impersonate the Tennessee Republican Party, but said that interference in the U.S. election process is "intolerable."
U.S. Sen Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., took to Twitter saying, "It is time for both sides to stop hyperventilating over the Mueller investigation," and calling for a renewed focus on reducing health care costs and making college education worth it for students.
Franklin McCallie, a liberal Chattanoogan who attended Thursday's Rotary meeting, shared with the audience that he's enjoyed engaging in civil conversations behind closed doors with Fleischmann, but he would like to see more open, town-hall discourse. However, Fleischmann declined.
"Candidly, because of the lack of civility, it has developed into a situation where sometimes it's counterproductive," Fleischmann said. "People get heated on both sides."
Contact staff writer Elizabeth Fite at email@example.com or 423-757-6673.
Reactions to special counsel report
"Robert Mueller is a respected prosecutor. He has determined that the president did not collude with Russia during the 2016 election. Attorney General Barr has released as much of Mueller's report as he legally and appropriately can. It is time for both sides to stop hyperventilating over the Mueller investigation and focus on reducing health care costs and making a college education worth it for students."
- United States Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.)
"I am pleased that the Mueller report has been made public, giving the American people the transparency they deserve and providing accountability in our democracy. After two years of investigation, thousands of subpoenas, and hundreds of interviews we once again come to the conclusion that there was no collusion. Furthermore, we know that Russian meddling in our election was an effort to sow uncertainty in our democracy and was furthered by Democrats' false narrative and personal vendetta against the President. Today, the Special Counsel's report was released to Congress but it is abundantly clear that Democrats are steadfast in their effort to prolong their dog and pony show of taxpayer-funded investigations regardless of the Special Counsel's findings. There was no collusion, but there is a crisis at our southern border. I plan to spend my time addressing this national emergency and other challenges facing our nation."
- Congressman Chuck Fleischmann (TN-03)