By Bill Parry
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) told President Trump he had a big mistake when he fired FBI Director James Comey Tuesday, sending shock waves throughout the political world.
Trump cited recommendations from Attorney Gen. Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney Gen. Rod Rosenstein that disapproved of the way the director handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation during last summer’s presidential campaign.
Schumer warned that if a special prosecutor isn’t named by the Justice Department to complete Comey’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 elections, it would indicate his firing was “part of a cover-up.”
“Were these investigations getting too close to home for the president? It is troubling that Attorney General Sessions, who had recused himself from the Russian investigation, played a role in firing the man leading it,” Schumer told reporters Tuesday night. “This is part of a deeply troubling pattern from the Trump administration. They fired Sally Yates. They fired Preet Bharara. And now they fire Director Comey, the very man leading the investigation. This does not seem to be a coincidence.”
Schumer called for a special prosecutor to take over the Russia investigation.
“The American people need to have faith that an investigation as serious as this one is being conducted impartially, without a shred of bias,” Schumer said. “The only way the American people can have faith in this investigation is for it to be lead by a fearless, independent special prosecutor.”
Trump took to Twitter to respond, writing “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer stated recently, ‘I do not have confidence in him (James Comey) any longer.’ Then acts so indignant. #draintheswamp.”
Pressed to respond to the Tweet by reporters, Schumer said he never called on the president to fire Comey.
“I have a lot of questions about how he handled himself,” Schumer said. “The overwhelming question is this: If the administration had the same questions, the event occurred months ago, and they should’ve fired Comey on the day they came into office. All of them occurred before he came into office, so that does not seem to me to be a very logical or persuasive explanation.”
Schumer wasn’t alone in demanding an independent prosecutor.
“Director Comey’s dismissal is extremely troubling,” said U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights), the Democratic Caucus chairman. “President Trump fired the man investigating him and his cohorts. I strongly support calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor.”
Trump took to Twitter again Wednesday morning.
“The Democrats have said some of the worst things about James Comey, including the fact that he should be fired, but now they play so sad!” Trump wrote, also predicting, “When things calm down, they will be thanking me!”
Hours later, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) rejected calls for a special prosecutor in the Russia investigation and ripped Democrats for their outrage.
“This is what we have now, Mr. President, our Democratic colleagues complaining about the removal of an FBI director whom they themselves repeatedly and sharply criticized,” he said on the Senate floor.
Schumer also spoke on the Senate floor Wednesday.
“No doubt we’ll have an opportunity to question Mr. Comey, now a private citizen, about what happened,” he said. “But we need to hear from this administration about what happened and why.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr