Declaring Trump’s sudden firing of the FBI Director to be “Nixonian” and “a coverup,” leading Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee have sent a strongly worded letter to the Department of Justice.
They want all documents related to the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and information on any links to Trump or those around him retained by the FBI but withheld from the Trump administration.
The demand was sent Justice today by a group that includes Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and Minority leader Senator Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.).
Blumenthal said the firing was “brazen, one of the most staggering, stunning acts of a president compromising an investigation.”
“If there was any question about the need for a special prosecutor,” said Blumenthal, “there is none now.”
Schumer said the Trump administration was systematically silencing law enforcement officials who do not serve their agenda.
“They fired Sally Yates,” charged Schumer. “They fired (New York U.S Attorney) Preet Bharara. And now they fired Director Comey, the very man leading the investigation. This does not seem to be a coincidence.”
Schumer got a phone call from Trump after the firing. He told the President that his decision was a big mistake.
Trump discussed that call on Twitter:
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
Schumer in November 2016 after the Clinton letter was leaked has said he had lost confidence in Comey. Schumer said at the time he “was going to have to sit down and talk to [Comey] and get an explanation for why he did this.”
Trump, meanwhile, praised Comey’s decision to release the letter 11 days before the election. Trump said it “took guts.”
Trump said a rally that Comey has “gotta hand tough because a lot of people want him to do the wrong thing. What he did was the right thing.”
Around the same time last fall, Trump praised Comey’s decision to go public with the disclosure, saying it “took guts.”
Trump said at a campaign rally that “What he did was the right thing.”
When Trump fired Comey, his only justification was that the FBI Director had acted improperly in the handling of the Hillary Clinton email inquiry.
Democrats and others have said rightly the firing was really about the heat rising from the investigation into Trump’s tie to Russia and how that influenced the election.
A few Republican Senators have agreed with Schumer and Blumenthal that what Trump did was wrong, while others have made excuses for Trump’s shocking actions.
Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) joined Senator John McCain (R-AZ) in taking a dim view of the firing of the FBI Director:
I've spent the last several hours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of Comey's firing. I just can't do it.
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) May 10, 2017
That is bad news for Trump. He will need 51 votes, all Republicans, to rubber stamp his choice for the next FBI Director. The loss of even two votes would be disastrous for him.
This could give leverage to these Republicans and the Democrats in their call for an independent investigation of the Russian interference in the 2016 election.
Trump may think he can make his problems go away by firing investigators, snubbing his enemies, lying about why he took those actions, but this is still a country where the President is as subject to the rule of law as anyone else.
That is a lesson America’s arrogant president may finally learn.