After U.S. President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, Democratic members of Congress denounced the move and renewed calls for an independent investigation of alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign.
Democrats likened the dismissal to President Richard Nixon’s firing of an independent special prosecutor on October 20, 1973, during the Watergate investigation and discounted Trump’s contention that the move was related to the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe of the emails of Hillary Clinton, Trump’s rival for the presidency.
Here are reactions from Democrats and Republicans to Comey’s firing:
“No one should accept President Trump’s absurd justification that he is now concerned that FBI Director Comey treated Secretary Clinton unfairly. … This is nothing less than Nixonian.” — Senator Patrick Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, in a statement.
“Today’s action by President Trump completely obliterates any semblance of an independent investigation into Russian efforts to influence our election and places our nation on the verge of a constitutional crisis.” — Representative John Conyers, a Michigan Democrat, in a statement.
“Given the recent controversies surrounding the director, I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well.” — Senator Lindsey Graham, a South Carolina Republican, in a statement.
“This is Nixonian. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein must immediately appoint a special counsel to continue the Trump/Russia investigation.” — Senator Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, in a statement.
‘A big mistake’
“Earlier this afternoon, President Trump called me and informed me he was firing Director Comey. I told the president: ‘Mr. President, with all due respect, you are making a big mistake.’ … Given the way the president has fired Director Comey, any person who he appoints to lead the Russia investigation will be concerned that he or she will meet the same fate as Director Comey if they run afoul of the administration.” — Senator Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, in remarks to reporters.
“There is now a crisis of confidence at the Justice Department and President Trump is not being held accountable because House Republicans refuse to work with us to do our job.” — Representative Elijah Cummings, a Maryland Democrat, in a statement; he called for immediate emergency hearings.
“The president’s actions today are shocking. … The only way this administration can begin to demonstrate a commitment to the rule of law … is to cooperate fully with the ongoing congressional investigations and to support the appointment of an independent special counsel.” — Senator Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, in a statement.
“This FBI director has sought for years to jail me on account of my political activities. If I can oppose his firing, so can you.” — fugitive former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, who leaked intelligence documents and is now living in Russia, on Twitter.
“Over the course of the last several months, Director Comey’s decisions on controversial matters have prompted concern from across the political spectrum and from career law enforcement experts.” — Senator Charles Grassley, an Iowa Republican, in a statement.
‘No one … can be trusted’
“There can be no question that a fully independent special counsel must be appointed to lead this [Russia] investigation. At this point, no one in Trump’s chain of command can be trusted to carry out an impartial investigation.” — Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, on Twitter.
“It is essential that ongoing investigations are fulsome and free of political interference until their completion, and it is imperative that President Trump nominate a well-respected and qualified individual to lead the bureau at this critical time.” — Senator Bob Corker, a Tennessee Republican, in a statement.
“James Comey is a man of honor and integrity and he has led the FBI well in extraordinary circumstances. I have long called for a special congressional committee to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The president’s decision to remove the FBI director only confirms the need and the urgency of such a committee.” — Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, in a statement.
“The need for a special prosecutor is now crystal clear. President Trump has catastrophically compromised the FBI’s ongoing investigation of his own White House’s ties to Russia. Not since Watergate have our legal systems been so threatened.” — Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, in a statement.
“This is an important move to restore public confidence in the fair administration of justice at the federal level. Mr. Comey did not seem to understand some of the laws he was asked to investigate and unfortunately politicized his sensitive position as the FBI director.” — Conservative watchdog group Judicial Watch.