In a letter to Goodlatte on Thursday, all 17 Democrats on the committee request hearings in which Comey, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would be called to testify.
“This decision to abruptly fire Mr. Comey not only undermines the Department of Justice’s investigation into Russia’s efforts to influence the recent U.S. elections in possible coordination with the Trump campaign, but also threatens to erode confidence in the Department as a bedrock of independence and integrity within our system of government,” reads the letter. “The dismissal of Director Comey demands a clear and compelling explanation. To date, the Administration has provided none.”
Democrats requested that those hearings be held before May 25.
Comey’s abrupt firing has sparked speculation on both sides of the aisle. Democrats pointed out that Comey had been overseeing the FBI’s investigation of potential ties between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government, and called for an independent prosecutor to probe potential collusion.
Some Republicans have also questioned the timing of Comey’s dismissal and whether the president went too far. But many others, like Goodlatte, have stood by the decision.
“The FBI is the premier law enforcement agency in the world and it is critical to have a director who holds the trust of the American people,” Goodlatte said in a statement Tuesday. “It is clearly the President’s prerogative to remove the FBI Director, as was recommended by the top two officials at the Department of Justice.”
The White House initially claimed Comey was fired on the recommendation of Rosenstein for mishandling the investigation of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s email server.
That narrative quickly crumbled under scrutiny. And on Thursday, Trump admitted he was looking for an excuse to dismiss the FBI director.
“I was going to fire him regardless of recommendation,” Trump told NBC News’ Lester Holt. “He made a recommendation, but regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey.”