Local lawmakers react to firing of FBI director

WASHINGTON — The White House’s surprise announcement that President Donald Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey led to calls for “emergency hearings,” the appointment of a special prosecutor and a series of tweetstorms by local Democratic lawmakers.

Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine, in an interview with WTOP, called for a special prosecutor to ensure an independent investigation “not subject to a Trump effort to shut it down.”

“A clear pattern is emerging; we’ve got to get to the bottom of it — there will be more to come,” he told WTOP.

The Trump administration has long said that its campaign had no improper communication with Russian authorities.

“(President Trump) is making the decision now because the noose is tightening on this Russia investigation, and that is the theme that links Yates, and Flynn, and Sessions, and now Comey — unusual firings, of all of them,” Kaine said.

In a statement, Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., who serves as vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, said Comey’s firing underscores the need for special counsel to investigate potential links between the Trump presidential campaign and Russian intelligence.

“The only way this Administration can begin to demonstrate a commitment to the rule of law, which has so far been sorely lacking, is to cooperate fully with the ongoing congressional investigations and to support the appointment of an independent special counsel,” Warner said in the statement.

Warner said Congress needs “to hear directly from former Director Comey about the FBI investigation and related events.” Comey had been scheduled to testify before the Senate panel on Thursday.

Virginia Republican congresswoman Barbara Comstock, who worked with Comey at the Justice Department in the early 2000s, called for an “independent investigation that the American people can trust.”

In the statement released late Tuesday, she said: “Both Democrats and Republicans attacked the FBI Director at various times for various reasons and called for his ouster. However, I can’t defend or explain tonight’s actions or timing of the firing of FBI Director James Comey.”

In a statement posted online, Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, the ranking member of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, said it was “mind-boggling” that Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had previously recused himself from the FBI’s investigation into potential Russia contacts because of his own dealings with the Russian ambassador, was involved in Comey’s firing.

“There is now a crisis of confidence at the Justice Department,” Cummings said and called for “immediate emergency hearings” to hear testimony from Sessions and Comey.

Several lawmakers took to Twitter to air concerns.

Comey’s firing shows “how frightened the (administration) is over (the) Russia investigation,” tweeted Kaine, who ran as Hillary Clinton’s running mate, Tuesday evening.

 

“Firing Comey has the foul stench of an attempt to stop an ongoing investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians,” tweeted Sen. Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., who also called for the appointment of an independent prosecutor.

A memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein laying out the rational for Comey’s firing faults the former director’s handling of the Clinton email investigation last year.

“If (Comey’s firing) were about previous misjudgements this would have happened in January,” tweeted Rep. Gerry Connolly, D-Va., whose district covers most of Fairfax County. “Rosenstein is an enabler and this is obstruction.”

WTOP’s Hanna Choi contributed to this report.

An earlier version of this story misstated Sen. Mark Warner’s title. He is the vice chairman of the Senate’s intelligence committee. 

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