Illinois senators, suburban Democratic congressmen question Comey firing
Illinois' U.S. senators on Tuesday renewed their call for an independent investigation into possible ties between President Donald Trump's administration and Russia, after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.
Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin said he hopes ongoing FBI investigations involving the 2016 election continue.
"The termination 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," he said. "Any attempt to stop or undermine this FBI investigation would raise grave constitutional issues.
"Under these circumstances, I renew my call for an independent counsel and 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."
Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth similarly questioned the firing.
"The President's actions transcend any one individual and raise significant concerns over the basic rule of law, especially if they are intended to dissuade criminal investigators from digging too deep into Trump Administration officials and associates -- or even the President himself," she said in a statement. "If any doubts remained about the need for a transparent, impartial and independent investigation into the Trump Administration, the firing of Director Comey surely eliminates them.
"It is not clear why Attorney General Sessions, who previously claimed he would recuse himself from all Russia-related matters, was involved in firing the law enforcement official leading the Russia investigation. There are simply too many questions raised by tonight's actions, and the American people deserve nothing less than answers from an independent investigator.
Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton told CBS Chicago he did not know Comey's firing was coming Tuesday. "The idea of him being replaced is news to me. Am I surprised by it? Not necessarily," he said.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi of Schaumburg likened Trump's firing of Comey to President Richard Nixon firing independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox, who was investigating the Watergate scandal, in 1973.
"President Trump's firing of FBI Director Comey is a nearly unprecedented action by an American president," Krishnamoorthi said in a statement. "It is extremely disturbing that the Chief Executive is interfering with an ongoing investigation into his Administration by firing the person charged with conducting it.
"One cannot help but be reminded of President Nixon's Saturday Night Massacre. This action only raises further questions regarding the Administration's ties to Russia.
"The White House has already engaged in misdirection about fired former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn's misconduct by refusing to provide investigators with documents regarding his security clearance. Today, President Trump has fired the individual most central to all the investigations into any illicit involvement with the Russian Government.
"Following revelations of his own contact with the Kremlin, Attorney General Sessions promised to recuse himself from the Russia investigation. Today, however, he endorsed the firing of the man leading it. FBI Director Comey was leading a counter-intelligence investigation of the President's 2016 campaign and its ties to Russian agents."
"The need for an independent commission or fully independent prosecutor to investigate and bring to light the truth of these matters for the American people is now more clear than ever," Krishnamoorthi concluded.
Democratic Rep. Bill Foster of Naperville issued a brief statement via Twitter.
"Public confidence in our democracy demands the immediate appointment of an independent prosecutor," he wrote.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley of Chicago, a member of the House Committee on Intelligence, accused Trump of trying to "hand select the individual that leads the investigation into his own Administration."
"It is no coincidence that Director Comey was fired shortly after confirming the existence of the FBI's investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials," Quigley said in a statement. "Despite the Administration's illogical excuses, this move serves only one purpose: to stall the process and prevent the truth from being revealed to the American people. It is a brazen decision taken straight out of the Nixon playbook."
"The firing of Director Comey underscores two things: the need for a special prosecutor and the importance of our investigation in the House, as we continue our efforts to shine a light on information that this Administration is clearly trying to keep in the dark," he said.