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Third-ranking Republican Sen. Thune says Comey firing is a distraction for GOP agenda

  • Sen. John Thune says if the Trump administration answers questions "quickly and honestly," things will get back to normal.
  • "Of course there are unanswered questions, and I think the administration needs to give a more full explanation with respect to the timing and how it was done, the rationale for it," Thune tells CNBC.

James Comey's abrupt firing as FBI director is a "distraction" for the GOP's agenda, Republican Sen. John Thune told CNBC on Thursday.

President Donald Trump's firing of Comey on Tuesday came amid the FBI's investigation into Russia's suspected meddling in the 2016 U.S. election and possible links between Moscow and Trump campaign officials.

"Of course there are unanswered questions, and I think the administration needs to give a more full explanation with respect to the timing and how it was done, the rationale for it. I think if they answer those questions as quickly and honestly as possible ... things will sort of get back to normal," Thune said on "Squawk Box."

Thune, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate, said among the issues on Republicans' plate is health care, taxes, regulatory reform and jobs. Republicans passed their health bill in the House last week but the measure faces a fight in the Senate.

"We've got conversations going on every day. In order to get something through the Senate on health care, we have to get 50 votes, and we only have 52 Republicans," he said. "We are assuming at least that Democrats probably aren't going to participate in this."