On Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer released a statement saying that President Donald Trump informed James Comey that he was terminated and removed from his position as FBI Director. Comey was delivering a speech in Los Angeles the moment he learned he was fired.
“The FBI is one of our Nation’s most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement,” President Trump said in the statement.
The sudden news sparked a flurry of reaction from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. Several called for a special council to continue looking into Russia’s efforts in meddling in the 2016 presidential election, including Republican Arizona Senator John McCain, who serves as the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee.
“I am disappointed in the President’s decision to remove James Comey from office,” McCain said 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.”
Texas Senator Ted Cruz, who ran in the Republican primaries during the 2016 election, issued a statement saying that Comey had “lost confidence” in those from both sides.
“The Director of the FBI needs to be above reproach, with an unquestioned reputation for fairness and impartiality,” Cruz said in a statement. “Unfortunately Mr. Comey had lost the confidence of both Republicans and Democrats, and, frankly, the American people.”
New York Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer called for a special prosecutor.
“First Pres Trump fired Sally Yates, then Preet Bharara. Now #Comey. Doesn’t seem like an accident. We must have a special prosecutor,” Schumer tweeted.
If tweeted minutes later that “If we don’t get a special prosecutor, every American will rightfully suspect that the decision to fire #Comey was part of a cover-up.”
Senator Bernie Sanders said the firing raises questions.
“Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey raises serious questions about what his administration is hiding,” Sanders tweeted.
Senator Richard Burr said he was “troubled” by the “timing and reasoning.”
“I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination,” Burr said in a statement. “I have found Director Comey to be a public servant of the highest order, and his dismissal further confuses an already difficult investigation by the Committee.”
“His dismissal, I believe, is a loss for the Bureau and the nation,” he added.
On Wednesday morning while speaking on the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected the calls for a special prosecutor.
“Today we’ll no doubt hear calls for a new investigation, which could only serve to impede the current work being done,” McConnell said, referring to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s current investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Arizona Republican Senator Jeff Flake tweeted that he couldn’t find “an acceptable rationale” for the firing.
“I’ve spent the last several hours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of Comey’s firing,” Flake tweeted. “I just can’t do it.”
Senator Tim Kaine, who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate during the 2016 election, claimed the firing shows “how frightened” the administration is regarding the Russia investigation.
“Trump firing Comey shows how frightened the Admin is over Russia investigation,” Kaine tweeted.
“Comey firing recommended by Sessions,” he added. “I thought he had recused himself from Russia investigation!”