The two words that made Donald Trump famous on reality TV are now making him headlines as president of the United States after he abruptly canned FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday.
The decision stunned Washington, especially because of the reason Trump gave: Comey’s handling of an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails wasn’t up to snuff. Comey, it should be noted, was also leading an investigation into whether Trump campaign and administration officials have or had ties to Russia, a country the intelligence community has said influenced the 2016 presidential election.
Comey drew criticism in the days before the November 2016 election when he publicly said in a letter to a congressional committee that the FBI had re-opened an investigation into Clinton’s emails. In recent days, Clinton has said Comey’s letter led to her defeat. On NPR this morning, Virginia Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine, her vice presidential running mate, said he did not believe it was Comey’s actions alone that doomed the campaign.
Directors of the Federal Bureau of Investigation serve at the pleasure of the president but are given 10-year terms to insulate them from political pressure of any given administration. Even former president Richard Nixon did not fire the director of the FBI as the bureau investigated his administration’s coverup of the Watergate break in and dirty tricks in the 1972 Democratic presidential primaries, which eventually led to Nixon’s resignation.
Here in Colorado, a state that did not go for Donald Trump in November, some Republican leaders were silent and Democrats were incensed.
In a brief tweet-storm Monday, Democratic U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet called for an independent prosecutor to continue an investigation into Russian influence in American public life and called Trump’s reason for canning Comey hard to believe.
Comey's firing raises many questions. One thing is clear: an independent special prosecutor is necessary to investigate Russian connections.
— Michael Bennet (@SenatorBennet) May 9, 2017
The Senate must stand firm: We will only confirm an FBI Director who pledges a vigorous investigation of Russian interference & connections.
— Michael Bennet (@SenatorBennet) May 10, 2017
Republican U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner said the investigation into Russia is important.
“The next director of the FBI, like Comey, must be an independent voice for the bureau — specifically for its continued investigation into Russia’s involvement with our election process,” he said in a statement. “It’s important that the FBI investigation into Russia, along with the ongoing bipartisan Senate investigation, remain of the highest priority for this nation and I expect it will under the next director.”
Arvada Democratic Congressman Ed Perlmutter, who is running for governor, sees something fishy going on.
— Rep. Ed Perlmutter (@RepPerlmutter) May 10, 2017
Boulder Democratic Congressman Jared Polis had this to say:
With the firing of FBI Director Comey, the need for an Independent Commission to investigate the Russian connection is now absolutely vital
— Jared Polis (@jaredpolis) May 9, 2017
Denver-area Democratic Congresswoman Diana DeGette has called for an independent, bipartisan commission to look into Russian ties among Trump campaign officials, but she has not called for the appointment of a special prosecutor.
And she re-tweeted this from the official account of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library:
— RichardNixonLibrary (@NixonLibrary) May 9, 2017
Aurora Congressman Mike Coffman said he was surprised by the move, but had long felt Comey was “no longer fit for the position.” He said he was concerned with Trump’s timing, though, because it creates the appearance that Comey might have been fired “due to his role in the investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.”
— Quincy Snowdon (@QuincySnowdon) May 10, 2017
“None of the investigations should be impacted by the firing of Mr. Comey,” said West Slope Republican Scott Tipton of Cortez. “Mr. Comey’s actions over the past year were not in keeping with standard Department of Justice protocol and embroiled the FBI, which is supposed to be the nation’s most trusted law enforcement agency, into a political controversy.” He said he supports ongoing congressional investigations into potential Russian influence.
Windsor Republican Congressman Ken Buck and Colorado Springs GOP Congressman Doug Lamborn have not yet commented publicly on social media or in the press.
Trump himself jumped on Twitter to defend kicking Comey to the curb.
Comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike. When things calm down, they will be thanking me!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2017
But he also couldn’t help being, well, Trump.
Cryin' Chuck Schumer stated recently, "I do not have confidence in him (James Comey) any longer." Then acts so indignant. #draintheswamp
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 10, 2017
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post stated Congresswoman DeGette and Congressman Polis called for a special prosecutor. They want an independent commission.
Photo by Gage Skidmore for Creative Commons on Flickr.