Published by The Lawfare Institute
in Cooperation With
We’re rounding up key public statements addressing President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. Watch this page; we'll update as new statements are issued.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI):
The President’s firing of the FBI Director comes at a time when the agency is actively investigating whether members of President Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election. This law enforcement investigation must continue.
Russia attacked our democracy and the American people deserve answers. President Trump’s decision to make this move tonight is an attack on the rule of law and raises more questions that demand answers. Firing the FBI Director does not place the White House, the President, or his campaign above the law.
The Senate Intelligence Committee must continue their bipartisan investigation because Congress has a responsibility to get to the bottom of this in a transparent way. We also need a Special Counsel to lead a comprehensive and independent investigation that follows all the facts wherever they lead.
Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO):
The timing of Director Comey's firing raises many questions. The next FBI director must be independent and relentless in seeking the truth.
This underscores the need for an independent special prosecutor to investigate Russian involvement in the 2016 election and connections to the Trump campaign and Administration.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT):
The need for a special prosecutor is now crystal clear. President Trump has catastrophically compromised the FBI’s ongoing investigation of his own White House’s ties to Russia. Not since Watergate have our legal systems been so threatened, and our faith in the independence and integrity of those systems so shaken. The only way to restore faith in a non-political, non-partisan FBI is to appoint an independent special prosecutor.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO):
Director Comey has served the country well in a number of different roles. Many, including myself, have questioned his actions more than once over the past year. I believe new leadership at the FBI will restore confidence in the organization and among the people who do the hard work to carry out its mission.
Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC) — Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman:
I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination. 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. In my interactions with the Director and with the Bureau under his leadership, he and the FBI have always been straightforward with our Committee. Director Comey has been more forthcoming with information than any FBI Director I can recall in my tenure on the congressional intelligence committees. His dismissal, I believe, is a loss for the Bureau and the nation.
Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD):
There is little President Trump does anymore that surprises me, but that he would fire the lead investigator into collusion between Russia and Trump campaign officials is beyond the pale –even for him. This is the biggest evidence to date of why we need an independent commission to investigate Russia’s interference in our election. We also need a special prosecutor to complete the ongoing criminal probe, now that the president has undermined the integrity of the FBI’s investigation.
There is no doubt that President Trump is threatened by the investigations of Russia’s ties to his campaign his actions reinforce the need for a nonpartisan commission to work full– time on behalf of the American people to figure out who did what, when and why. The American people are entitled to answers.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME):
Today’s announcement is likely the inevitable conclusion of Director Comey’s decision last July to bypass the longstanding protocols of the Justice Department and publicly announce the reasons he had decided not to recommend an indictment of Hillary Clinton and to offer his personal views of Mrs. Clinton’s actions.
That decision, while well-intentioned, embroiled Director Comey into political controversies that unfortunately continued to this day.
Any suggestion that today’s announcement is somehow an effort to stop the FBI's investigation of Russia’s attempt to influence the election last fall is misplaced. The President did not fire the entire FBI; he fired the director. I have every confidence that the FBI will continue to pursue its investigation. In addition, I am certain that the Senate Intelligence Committee, on which I serve, will continue its own bipartisan investigation and will follow the evidence wherever it leads.
I hope that the next FBI Director will have the same kind of integrity, intelligence, and determination that Mr. Comey exhibited, but perhaps better judgment on when it is appropriate to comment publicly on the results of an investigation.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN):
While the case for removal of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey laid out by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein was thorough, his removal at this particular time will raise questions. It is essential that ongoing investigations are fulsome and free of political interference until their completion, and it is imperative that President Trump nominate a well-respected and qualified individual to lead the bureau at this critical time.
Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN):
There are serious questions about the President’s decision to dismiss Director Comey, while he was at the center of one of the most important FBI investigations in recent memory. The American people deserve answers regarding Russia’s interference in our election. This action should not change the pace or the extent of the investigation, and it’s clearly time to appoint a special prosecutor.
Sen. Dick Durban (D-IL):
Determination and removal of James Comey as director of the Federal Bureau of investigation raises the critical question as to whether the FBI investigation of Russian interference in the last presidential campaign will continue and as to whether the investigation of any collusion or involvement by the Trump campaign will also be investigated by the FBI. Any attempt to stop or undermine this FBI investigation would raise graves constitutional issues. Under the circumstances, I renew my call for an independent counsel at a special commission to fully investigate the Russian interference. We await clarification by the White House as soon as possible as to whether this investigation will continue and whether it will have a credible leader so that we know it will have a just outcome.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC):
I know this was a difficult decision for all concerned.
I appreciate Director Comey’s service to our nation in a variety of roles.
Given the recent controversies surrounding the director, I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well.
I encourage the President to select the most qualified professional available who will serve our nation’s interests.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) — Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman:
Over the course of the last several months, Director Comey's decisions on controversial matters have prompted concern from across the political spectrum and from career law enforcement experts.
The handling of the Clinton email investigation is a clear example of how Comey's decisions have called into question the trust and political independence of the FBI. In my efforts to get answers, the FBI, under Comey's leadership, has been slow or failed to provide information that Comey himself pledged to provide.
The effectiveness of the FBI depends upon the public trust and confidence. Unfortunately, this has clearly been lost.
The FBI Director serves at the pleasure of the president. Under these circumstances, President Trump accepted the recommendation of the Justice Department that the Director lacked the confidence needed to carry out his important duties.
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM):
President Trump’s dismissal of FBI Director Comey smacks of President Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre. If this is an effort to stop the investigations into Russian collusion with the Drumpf campaign, it won’t succeed.
This is a direct attack on the integrity and independence of the FBI. I’m renewing my call for an independent prosecutor to take over this investigation.
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI):
The President’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey in this manner, under this pretext, and at this time is a total disservice to the American people.
The country is asking, Mr. President, what do you have to hide?
There is no question that President Trump wants the investigation of Russian interference with the 2016 presidential election, and the trunk teams ties to those efforts, to just go away.
Knowing this, it is hard to interpret the decision to fire Director Comey as being motivated by anything other than a desire to shutdown or derail the FBI investigation. In fact, it only raises further suspicions about the Trump team’s ties to Russian interference in our election.
Four months, I have called for a special prosecutor and an independent investigation into this serious matter. We need a special prosecutor who will conduct an impartial, thorough investigation untainted by political considerations.
Sen. Angus King (I-ME):
Based on what I know, it appears to me that the firing of the FBI director was a solution in search of a rationale. To dismiss Director Comey based on actions he took last year, when the president has been in office for more than five months, just doesn't add up and raises more questions than answers.
Furthermore, his dismissal is especially troubling given that there is an ongoing FBI investigation into contacts between Russia and the Trump campaign. His firing undermines confidence in the credibility of that process, and to restore it– both for me and for the American people– I believe it is not only appropriate, but urgently necessary to appoint a Special Counsel to carry forward the investigation. Meanwhile, I expect the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation to continue to proceed in a nonpartisan manner and follow the facts wherever they lead.
Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) — Senate Intelligence Committee:
James Comey had an incredibly difficult job in his role as FBI Director and I am grateful for his service. The issues that our law enforcement, intelligence community, and congressional committees deal with each day are very sensitive and have life or death implications. Director Comey has been the public face representing thousands of committed law enforcement officers and civil servants within the intelligence community. In the days ahead, the American people need clarity and deserve an explanation for his immediate firing. It is unfortunate that over the past year the Director had lost the trust of so many people on both sides of the aisle. It is now important that the Senate confirm the next FBI Director with a thorough and fair process.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) — Senate Judiciary Committee:
The President’s actions, and the way it has been handled, is shocking. No one should accept President Trump’s absurd justification that he is now concerned that FBI Director Comey treated Secretary Clinton unfairly. The president in fact celebrated the Director’s mistakes in the investigation. That fig leaf exclamation seeks to cover the undeniable truth: The president has removed the sitting FBI director in the midst of one of the most critical national security investigations in history of our country—one implicate senior officials in the Trump campaign administration. This is nothing less than Nixonian.
Given that the Atty. Gen. supposedly recused himself from the Russia investigation, you should not have played any role in moving the lead investigator from his duties. Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein now has no choice but to appoint a Special Counsel. His integrity, and the integrity of the entire Justice Department, are at stake.
The President’s letter, in which he refers to rushing interference and possible collusion with the President’s associates, is bizarre and raises troubling questions about the President’s motivation.
There simply is no avoiding the compelling fact that this cascading situation demands the prompt appointment of independent special counsel to pick up the pieces of these investigations.
Sen. John McCain (R-AZ):
While the President has the legal authority to remove the Director of the FBI, I am disappointed in the President's decision to remove James Comey from office. 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.
Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI):
President Trump’s firing of Director Comey in the midst of an active criminal investigation of his inner circle is shocking and disturbing. This action could paralyze the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russian officials, and the Trump Organization’s potential ties to Russian interests.
The explanation from the White House is highly implausible and the timing and circumstances surrounding this decision raise serious questions about the President’s motives. President Trump knew about the supposed grounds for Director Comey’s termination when he invited Director Comey to join the Administration, and the explanations coming from the Justice Department now just don’t add up.
The only way we can resolve this situation now is with a special prosecutor. The investigation must be overseen by someone the President cannot fire at will.
The Trump Administration has demonstrated a pattern of ignoring precedent and moving forward in a way that is most beneficial to their political self-interest. It is worth noting that many officials involved in this investigation have either been removed from their posts or have been forced to recuse themselves due to personal involvement. This process needs to be moved out of the political realm and into the hands of an independent special prosecutor.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT):
Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey raises serious questions about what his administration is hiding. Why did President Trump fire the person leading the investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and the Russian government? I find it deeply troubling that this decision comes a day after damning testimony by former acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Russia’s ties to the Trump campaign and just days before Comey was scheduled to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
President Trump has repeatedly taken steps to kill inquiries into Russia’s involvement in the U.S. election. It is clear that whomever President Trump handpicks to lead the FBI will not be able to objectively carry out this investigation. We need an independent investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE):
Regardless of how you think Director Comey handled the unprecedented complexities of the 2016 election cycle, the timing of this firing is very troubling. Jim Comey is an honorable public servant, and in the midst of a crisis of public trust that goes well beyond who you voted for any presidential election, the loss of an honorable public servant is a loss for the nation. As the chairman of the Judiciary Committee’s Oversight Subcommittee, I have reached out to the deputy attorney general for clarity on his rationale for recommending this action.
Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) — Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman:
The President’s actions today are shocking. It is deeply troubling that the President has fired the FBI director during an active counterintelligence investigation into improper contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The administration insists there’s no ‘there there,’ yet President Trump has so far fired the acting Attorney General, nearly every U.S. attorney, and now the Director of the FBI. In addition, this President’s choice for Attorney General has been forced to recuse himself, and the National Security Advisor has resigned, as a result of undisclosed contacts with Russian officials.
Now more than ever, it is vital that our ongoing investigation is completed in a credible and bipartisan way. We also need to hear directly from former Director Comey about the FBI investigation and related events.
The President’s actions today make it clear to me that a Special Counsel also must be appointed. That’s the only way the American people will be able to trust the results of any DOJ investigation. 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.
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI):
While the White House is under investigation by the FBI, firing the head of the FBI raises massive questions, and the Senate should get to the bottom of it. America needs to have confidence that the Department of Justice will fill its traditional role of following the facts fearlessly, and prosecuting whomever has violated the law no matter the office they hold.
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) — Senate Intelligence Committee:
I have long been a critic of Director Comey, for his views about surveillance and torture, his stance on secret law and his conduct during the investigation into Secretary Clinton. But Donald Trump's decision to fire him now, in the midst of an investigation into trump associates and their ties to Russia, is outrageous. Director Comey should be immediately called to testify in an open hearing about the status of the investigation into Russia and trump associate at the time he was fired.
There can be no question that a fully independent special counsel must be appointed to lead this investigation. At this point, no one in Trump’s chain of command can be trusted to carry out an impartial investigation.
The president would do well to remember that in America, the truth always comes out.
Rep. Joaquin Castro (D-TX):
President Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director Comey is extremely suspicious. For the past six months, I have been asked if I believed Director Comey should be fired. Consistently, I have said that, despite his errors, I trust Director Comey more than any person President Trump would nominate.
Above all else, the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election must continue. Because Attorney General Sessions has recused himself from that investigation, I urge Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein to reaffirm the agency’s commitment to seeking the truth in this matter.
Now more than ever, it is essential an independent commission is formed to investigate Russia’s interference in our election.
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD):
Congress needs to have immediate emergency hearings to obtain testimony directly from Attorney General Sessions, the deputy attorney general, and FBI Director Comey. The White House was already covering up for 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 campaign over allegations of coordination with Russia. It is mindboggling that the Attorney General — who claimed to have recused himself — was directly involved in the decision to fire Director Comey according to the White House itself. There is now a crisis of confidence at the Justice Department, and President Trump is not being held accountable because House Republicans refuse to work with us to do our job. Congress must restore credibility, accountability, and transparency to this investigation and finally pass legislation to create a truly independent commission.
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN):
We are witnessing a Constitutional crisis unfold before our very eyes. On March 20, FBI Director James Comey confirmed under oath that the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign for its involvement with Russian officials to influence our election. Today, President Trump fired him.
The next FBI Director appointed by President Trump will not have the independence or confidence of the American people to continue this investigation. In order to preserve the integrity of the investigation and the government, we need a special prosecutor to probe the possible collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian government officials.
Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH):
President Trump’s abrupt decision to fire FBI Director Comey raises many serious questions. The American people deserve a full accounting of the process that went into this decision and deserve to know whether the FBI’s ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election had any influence on the President’s action. This episode reinforces the need for both a special prosecutor as well as a thorough Congressional investigation to get to the bottom of Russia’s interference and any connection to President Trump’s campaign in order to ensure complete confidence in our democratic institutions.
It is essential that the next FBI director be able to demonstrate true independence from the political influence of this Administration and commit to following the facts of any ongoing or future investigations, no matter where they lead.
Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL):
The FBI Director's firing cries out for a Special Prosecutor. Up until the moment of his dismissal, Director Comey was actively investigating President Donald John Trumps’ connection to Russian interference in the 2016 election. The American people deserve to know why Director Comey was fired without reason and Donald Trump needs to explain himself immediately.
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA):
The manner and suddenness of FBI Director Comey’s firing is deeply disturbing. Comey’s dismissal, as he was investigating the Trump campaign’s connections to Russia, is yet another alarming sign of how little regard this administration has for ethical lines and the Constitution. As I have said before, we urgently need a fully bipartisan and independent investigation into Russia’s influence on the White House and the 2016 election.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) — House Committee on Intelligence Ranking Member:
The decision by a president whose campaign associates are under investigation by the FBI for collusion with Russia to fire the man overseeing the investigation, upon the recommendation of an Attorney General who has recused himself from the investigation, raises profound questions about whether the White House is brazenly interfering in a criminal matter. While I had deep reservations with the way Director Comey handled the investigation into the Clinton emails which I made clear at the time and since, to take this action without addressing the profound comfort of interest of the president and Attorney General harkens back to a similarly tainted decision by President Nixon.
The same president who has call the investigation into the Russian hacking of our democracy and potential complicity of his campaign a ‘fake,’ cannot pretend to have made such a decision uninfluenced by his concerns over Comey’s continued involvement in the investigation. It is more imperative than ever that an independent prosecutor be appointed to restore a modicum of public confidence– now completely lacking– that the criminal investigation will continue without further interference by the White House.
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) — House Committee on Intelligence Member:
The President’s firing of FBI Director James Comey is akin to Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre during the Watergate scandal, and shows that the President is willing to go to any length to hold himself above the law. If Mr. Comey did indeed uncover information of the President’s Russian entanglements, firing him gives the appearance of an enormous cover-up. The Administration and the Attorney General’s pretense that this is about the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails is a laughable fig leaf, particularly since AG Sessions himself had to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Additionally, all this comes after the Administration attempted to interfere in the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence’s investigation into the extent to which the President and his subordinates colluded with Russia. Comey’s dismissal is a blatant abuse of power and a conflict of interest for the President, his senior staff, and for the Attorney General, and it proves that now, more than ever, we need robust congressional oversight and a special prosecutor to conduct this investigation.
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL):
This is a dark day for justice in America. The conduct of FBI Director James Comey before the 2016 Election was certainly disturbing, and undoubtedly deserved criticism and scrutiny. But the reasoning and timing behind this firing is absolutely preposterous and unbelievable. It smacks of a Nixon-esque cover up of President Trump’s Kremlin ties. And with this egregious political power play, there is now no question that a special prosecutor is needed, because Americans absolutely deserve an open, independent investigation into Trump’s Russian connections.