During the first three months of Donald Trump’s presidency, many disputed moves have been made, yet the sudden firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday sent ripples through Capitol Hill and raised some questions from both sides of the aisle. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (R-NY) and many other Democrats immediately concurred that a special nonpartisan prosecutor should be appointed in the Trump-Russia investigation that has been swirling around the political arena since his 2016 presidential campaign.
Schumer quickly addressed reporters in Washington DC by saying, “Every American will rightly suspect that the decision to fire Director Comey was part of a cover-up.” Schumer once again petitioned the person who is overseeing the investigation, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, to assign a special prosecutor to the case in order to rule out any sort of bias.
Senator Schumer continued: “The American people’s trust in our criminal justice system is in Rosenstein’s hands.” He then directed his comments toward the deputy attorney general himself: c
Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois indicated that Comey’s ousting would strengthen the case for appointing an independent prosecutor: “I don’t think there’s any alternative at this point. I worry that they’ll refuse the special prosecutor and we’ll never hear again from the FBI investigation.”
Although several top Republicans stood by Trump’s decision to give Comey the axe, Senator John McCain of Arizona and Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina expressed their concerns. Up until Tuesday, Comey was serving his fourth year of a 10-year term at the bureau and was also heading the investigation regarding Trump aides allegedly colluding with Russia, both before and during the 2016 presidential election.
Senator Burr is heading one of the congressional inquiries regarding Russian interference; he had this to say shortly after hearing about Comey getting fired: “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.”
Senator McCain has repeatedly called for a special investigation throughout the scandal. Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee indicated that this untimely move by Trump will definitely raise some questions. Republican Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska has asked the deputy attorney general for further information as to why he recommended the firing of Comey. “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 in the presidential election, the loss of an honorable public servant is a loss for the nation.”
Comey’s termination will create another highly-contested standoff in the Senate, which comes as no surprise, considering that partisan battles have been taking place since Trump took office. The White House indicated that a search for a new FBI director will begin immediately, yet only a simple majority is required to appoint a new chief to the bureau.
The Democratic Party has been constantly lobbying for an independent investigation regarding Trump’s involvement with Russia, but to no avail. Senior Republican Senator John Cornyn of Texas seems to think that Rosenstein is fully capable of heading the investigation without bias: “I believe any investigation, if there is one, will go on under the successor. I thought [Comey] was a good man but obviously lost the president’s confidence. So I don’t think he would have any impact going forward on any investigation that exists or any facts that may exist.”
While it’s clear that partisan politics is playing a major role in all of this, the likelihood of getting an independent investigation seems to be up in the air at this time. Since the Republican Party controls the House, the Senate, and the Oval Office, moving forward with nonpartisan clarity may be way off in the future, perhaps towards the end of 2018 when the midterm elections take place.