Moments after news broke that President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, Democratic lawmakers renewed calls for a special prosecutor to investigate the president’s and his associates’ alleged ties to the Russian government.
The FBI and multiple congressional committees are investigating Russia’s interference with the 2016 presidential election and possible connections between the president’s campaign and Russian officials. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the FBI’s ongoing investigation, but Democrats have still demanded an impartial, independent inquiry into Russian interference and any role Trump’s team had in it.
Those calls got louder after Trump announced Comey’s firing, one day after the Senate held a hearing on potential collusion with Russia.
“The only way the American people can have faith in this investigation is for it to be led by a fearless, independent special prosecutor,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) during a press conference Tuesday evening. “If Deputy Attorney General [Rod] Rosenstein does not appoint an independent special prosecutor, every American will rightly suspect that the decision to fire Director Comey was part of a cover-up.”
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who in February led calls for an independent investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia, said there’s “no doubt” that an independent special prosecutor should be appointed.
Many of Blumenthal’s Senate colleagues echoed his call:
As did Republican Rep. Justin Amash (Mich.):
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), meanwhile, said Comey’s firing raises concerns over whether the FBI’s investigation would continue at all:
Other lawmakers said the firing smacked of a cover-up, with some comparing the president’s actions to Richard Nixon’s 1973 purge of the Justice Department, including the special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal. (Trump previously drew comparisons to the so-called Saturday Night Massacre after firing acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she refused to defend his executive order banning immigration from certain Muslim-majority countries.)
White House press secretary Sean Spicer had dismissed calls for a special prosecutor in February. “A special prosecutor for what? How many people have to say there is nothing there before you realize that there is nothing there?”