President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey Tuesday—only weeks after Comey confirmed the FBI was investigating whether Trump’s campaign collaborated with Russia to sway the 2016 election.
James Comey: “I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election. And that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.”
That was James Comey testifying to the House Intelligence Committee hearing in March. He was four years into a 10-year term when Trump fired him on Tuesday. Trump claims he made the decision based on the recommendation of newly appointed Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who both faulted Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails in the lead-up to the elections. The New York Times reports Sessions had been charged with coming up with reasons to fire Comey.
In recent months Comey had come under widespread criticism from many Democrats for notifying lawmakers just before the election that the FBI was once again investigating whether Clinton had sent classified information from her private email server while she was secretary of state. Just last week, Clinton said Comey’s actions factored into her loss. Still, on Tuesday, dozens of Democrats spoke out against Comey’s firing, saying they didn’t believe it was over his handling of the investigation into Clinton’s emails. This is Virginia Democratic Senator Mark Warner.
Sen. Mark Warner: “It’s outrageous. I mean, I thought I could no longer be surprised by this administration. Cancel that. I am shocked by what the president did. I’m shocked, as well, by the idea that the deputy attorney general put his name to a letter that is—doesn’t pass any smell test, somehow blaming Comey for his actions during the Clinton investigation as the reason for firing. That doesn’t pass any smell test.”
Many Senate Democrats are now calling for a special prosecutor to investigate the Trump administration. On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer defended Trump’s move to fire Comey.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer: “I also find it interesting that the same individuals who are out there making these statements on the other side of the aisle are the same people, including the minority leader, who said very clearly just a few months ago, 'I have lost confidence in the attorney—in the FBI director.' So, the same people, from Nancy Pelosi to Chuck Schumer and the—Adam Schiff, over and over again, questioned his ability to effectively lead the FBI. And it seems a bit ironic that they are now sort of questioning the president’s decision to side with something that they clearly articulated a few months back.”
This morning, Donald Trump tweeted, “Comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike. When things calm down, they will be thanking me!” Comey’s firing came on the same day CNN reported federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, as part of the ongoing probe of alleged Russian meddling in last year’s election. We’ll have more on Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey after headlines with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald.