Following Comey's Firing, Lawmakers Call for Independent Russia Investigation [Updated]

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“I simply said to him, ‘Mr. President, in all due respect, you’re making a very big mistake,’” Senator Chuck Schumer told reporters this evening. Schumer was referring to Trump’s sudden decision to fire FBI Director James Comey. The Senate minority leader then proceeded to call for a special investigation, a move that many members of Congress are aggressively demanding.

At the time of his termination, Comey was investigating members of the Trump campaign in a broad probe of all things related to Russia’s hacking and interference during the 2016 presidential election.


“Are people going to suspect a cover-up? Absolutely,” Schumer said at a hastily gathered press conference. He said that he wants to see the investigation continue and be “run as far away as possible from this White House and as far away as possible from anyone President Trump has appointed.”

But the White House isn’t coming to this fight without ammo. According to NBC News, White House aides quickly began distributing fliers to the press that quotes Schumer as saying that he no longer has confidence in Comey based on the FBI director’s decision to send a letter reopening the investigation into Clinton’s private email server. Schumer made those comments back in November before anyone knew that the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign.

Of course, many Democrats are echoing Schumer’s call for an independent investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. But the idea is gaining traction with Republicans as well. In the few hours since it was announced that Comey had been fired, Republican Representative Justin Amash announced that he is reviewing legislation that would set up an independent commission on Russia. Republican Senator John McCain also threw his support behind the idea of an independent investigation, saying in a statement, “The president’s decision to remove the FBI director only confirms the need and the urgency for such a committee.”

Amish told Buzzfeed News that he’s considering a bill that was drawn up by Democratic Representatives Eric Swalwell and Elijah Cummings. According to the report:

The bill would create a nonpartisan, independent commission to investigate foreign influence in the 2016 election, but it has so far failed to pick up much traction with Republicans. North Carolina Rep. Walter Jones is the only Republican who has signed on to the bill.


In reference to Trump’s letter to Comey, Amash tweeted that “The second paragraph of this letter is bizarre.” The paragraph is certainly one of the most baffling parts of this story. It reads:

While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau.


In all likelihood, many lawmakers will be asking the White House for clarification on exactly what the fuck that means. Trump’s decision to spend about a quarter of his letter to Comey discussing the Russia investigation is... How do we say this? Foolish? Criminally incompetent?

Here’s what some Democrats are saying:

Representative Elijah Cummings:

Congress needs to have immediate emergency hearings to obtain testimony directly from Attorney General [Jeff] Sessions, the deputy attorney general and FBI Director Comey...

The White House was already covering up for [former national security adviser] Michael Flynn by refusing to provide a single document to Congress, and now the President fired the one independent person who was doing the most to investigate President Trump and his [2016] campaign over allegations of coordination with Russia.


Senator Tim Kaine:

Trump firing Comey shows how frightened the Admin is over Russia investigation. Comey firing [was] recommended by Sessions. I thought he had recused himself from Russia investigation! Comey firing [is] part of a growing pattern by White House to cover-up the truth.


Senator Bob Casey:

This is Nixonian.

Senator Patrick Leahy:

This is nothing less than Nixonian.

But not everyone seems to be disturbed by the bizarre timing of the Trump administration to fire the man in charge of investigating his team. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said that he believes “a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well.” And the Republican Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley appeared to support Trump’s decision saying that “The effectiveness of the FBI depends upon the public trust and confidence. Unfortunately, this has clearly been lost.”


Of course, the public trust could also be lost as Trump continues to fire people who push too hard into investigations of his administration. People who have no love for Comey are outraged over his firing. Edward Snowden tweeted, “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.” The Electronic Frontier Foundation which has often clashed with the FBI released a statement that reads in part, “we are deeply troubled about Director Comey’s termination and what it says about the independence of the office and its ability to conduct fair investigations, including into threats to our digital security and the integrity of our elections.” Even Fox News is baffled. The deeply conservative pundit Charles Krauthammer called the timing of the decision “almost inexplicable.”

James Comey reportedly flew out of LAX just moments ago. It’s unclear if he will still testify in scheduled hearings with Congress. For his part, Trump is reportedly considering tomorrow as a great time to meet with the Russian foreign minister at the White House.


Update 10:35pm: