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US lawmakers have been sounding off after President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday.
The reactions range from agreement to dismay in light of the multiple controversies surrounding the Trump administration – chief among them, the inquiry into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US election. Comey had been leading that investigation on behalf of the FBI.
Bipartisan investigation of the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia are ongoing in the House and Senate.
Here’s a look at how Democrats and Republicans are reacting to the FBI director’s firing.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, Republican, South Carolina
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Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina says he is on board with President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. In a statement released Tuesday afternoon, Graham said, “given the recent controversies surrounding the director, I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well. I encourage the president to select the most qualified professional available who will serve our nation’s interests.”
Graham chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism. He led hearings on Monday in which former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper testified about Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who was fired in February over his contacts with Russian operatives prior to Trump’s inauguration.
Graham has been an infrequent critic of Trump before and after the 2016 election, and has been vocal about getting to the bottom of the Russia investigation. As recently as Tuesday, Graham said he has questions about potential business ties Trump may have with the Kremlin.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, Democrat, New York
Schumer is the Senate Minority Leader. He said during a press conference on Tuesday: “I told the president, Mr. President, with all due respect, you’re making a big mistake,” referring to a phone call he had with President Donald Trump, informing Schumer of Comey’s firing.
“The first question the administration has to answer is ‘why now,'” Schumer said. “If the administration has objections to the way Director Comey handled the Clinton investigation, they had those objections the minute the president got into office, but they didn’t fire him then. Why did it happen today?”
“We know the House is investigating Russian interference in our elections that benefited the Trump campaign. We know the Senate is investigating. We know the FBI has been looking into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians. A very serious offense. Were these investigations getting too close to home for the president? It is troubling that Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions, who had recused himself from the Russia investigation, played a role in firing the man leading it.”
Watch Schumer’s entire press conference below:
Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Democrat, Massachusetts
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Warren railed against Trump’s decision in a series of tweets on Tuesday: “There’s no question that Comey made questionable decisions during the election. The FBI shouldn’t comment on ongoing investigations. But does anyone seriously believe Trump fired the top person investigating his ties to Russia because he was unfair to Hillary?”
The Massachusetts senator continued: “It’s time for Congress to get their heads out of the sand. Trump cannot pick the person to continue this critical investigation. We need a real, independent prosecutor who Trump can’t fire, Sessions can’t intimidate, & Congress can’t muzzle. We need it now.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Democrat, California
Feinstein, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said “The next FBI director must be strong and independent and will receive a fair hearing in the Judiciary Committee.”
Sen. Bob Casey, Democrat, Pennsylvania
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Casey said in a statement on Tuesday: “This is Nixonian. Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein must immediately appoint a special prosecutor to continue the Trump/Russia investigation.”
Rep. Adam Schiff, Democrat, California
Schiff is helping lead the House investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US election. He said Tuesday that Trump’s decision to fire Comey “upon the recommendation of an Attorney General who has recused himself from the investigation, raises profound questions about whether the White House is brazenly interfering in a criminal matter.”
“While I had deep reservations with the way Director Comey handled the investigation into the Clinton emails which I made clear at the time and since, to take this action without addressing the profound conflict of interest of the President and Attorney General harkens back to a similarly tainted decision by President Nixon.”
Sen. John McCain, Republican, Arizona
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McCain, who has been a frequent critic of Trump said Tuesday: “While the President has the legal authority to remove the Director of the FBI, I am disappointed in the President’s decision to remove James Comey from office.”
“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 statement continued. “The president’s decision to remove the FBI Director only confirms the need and the urgency of such a committee.”
Rep. Barbara Comstock, Republican, Virginia
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Rep. Comstock, who serves Virginia’s 10th congressional district, said “Both Democrats and Republicans attacked attacked the FBI Director at various times for various reasons and called for his ouster. However, I can’t defend or explain [Tuesday’s] actions or timing of the firing of FBI Director James Comey”
“The FBI investigation into the Russian impact on the 2016 election must continue. There must be an independent investigation that the American people can trust.”
Sen. Chuck Grassley, Republican, Iowa
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“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,” Grassley said in his statement.
“The handling of the Clinton email investigation is a clear example of how Comey’s decisions have called into question the trust and political independence of the FBI.”
Sen. Bob Corker, Republican, Tennessee
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Corker is the chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He joined other Republican lawmakers is express worry about Trump’s move.
Corker said: “While the case for removal of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey laid out by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein was thorough, his removal at this particular time will raise questions.”
“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.”
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Democrat, Maryland
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Van Hollen, ranking member of the House Budget Committee, said on Twitter: “The ‘you’re fired’ approach doesn’t work when you’re President. POTUS you’re creating a crisis of confidence in our Justice Department.”
Rep. Justin Amash, Republican, Michigan
Rep. Amash of Michigan’s 3rd congressional district said on Twitter: “My staff and I are reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia. The second paragraph of this letter is bizarre.”
Sen. Mark Warner, Democrat, Virginia
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“The President’s actions today are shocking. It is deeply troubling that the President has fired the FBI director during an active counterintelligence investigation into improper contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia,” Warner’s statement read.
He continued: “The President’s actions today make it clear to me that a Special Counsel also must be appointed. That’s the only way the American people will be able to trust the results of any DOJ investigation.”
Sen. Richard Burr, Republican, North Carolina
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Burr, who chairs Senate Intelligence Committee said, “I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Democrat, Connecticut
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“I agree with my colleagues that there ought to be an independent commission,” Sen. Blumenthal said in a statement Tuesday.
“People want the truth uncovered about how the Russians sought to interfere and undermine our democracy and our electoral system. And they also want accountability.”
Sen. Ben Sasse, Republican, Nebraska
Sasse is the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee. He said in a statement posted to Twitter: “Regardless of how you think Director Comey handled the unprecedented complexities of the 2016 election cycle, the timing of this firing is very troubling.”
“Jim Comey is an honorable public servant, and in the midst of a crisis of public trust, that goes well beyond who you voted for in the presidential election, the loss of an honorable public servant is a loss for the nation,” Sasse’s statement contained.
Sen. James Lankford, Republican, Oklahoma
Lankford, the junior senator from Oklahoma said of Comey’s firing: “In the days ahead, the American people need clarity and deserve an explanation for [Comey’s] immediate firing. It is unfortunate that over the past year the Director had lost the trust of so many people on both sides of the aisle.”
“It is now important that the Senate confirm the FBI director with a thorough and fair process.”
Sen. Jeff Flake, Republican, Arizona
Flake and Donald Trump have been at odds since the 2016 election. The Arizona senator, who is up for reelection next year, said on Tuesday: “I’ve spent the last several hours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of Comey’s firing. I just can’t do it.”
Rep. Carlos Curbelo, Republican, Florida
Rep. Curbelo, who represents Florida’s 26th congressional district, called Comey’s dismissal “extraordinary” and said “Congress and the American people need a transparent explanation as to how this decision was reached and why it was executed at this time.”
“It is critical that the FBI can continue all of its pending work with independence and integrity – especially in the investigation into the Russian government’s efforts to influence our last election and undermine American democracy.”