Several of New York City’s congressional Democrats on Wednesday denounced President Donald Trump’s firing of James Comey as FBI director, describing the move as a “threat” to democracy that should be investigated by a special prosecutor.
Speaking at a news conference in lower Manhattan, five U.S House members — Reps. Hakeem Jeffries, Gregory Meeks, Nydia Velázquez, Carolyn Maloney and Yvette Clarke — accused Trump of dismissing Comey on Tuesday to disrupt the FBI’s ongoing investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, which includes examining possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian operatives
The lawmakers called on Congress to investigate Comey’s abrupt termination.
“There is a high cloud of illegitimacy hanging over 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue that can only be cleaned up with a fair, impartial and independent investigation,” said Jefferies (D-Brooklyn), who sits on the U.S. House Judiciary Committee.
Trump on Wednesday told reporters he fired Comey “because he wasn’t doing a good job.”
In a letter recommending Comey’s ouster, Deputy U.S. Attorney General Rod Rosenstein cited the FBI head’s handling of an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email use as secretary of state. Rosenstein said Comey was “wrong” to hold a July news conference announcing the investigation’s completion, where he recommended the case be “closed without prosecution.” The decision on whether to prosecute rests with the attorney general, Rosenstein said.
Democrats, who during the election vocally criticized Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation, said Wednesday they did not believe the Clinton episode was the real motive behind Comey’s firing.
“If he wanted to fire him, it would seem appropriate to fire him at the beginning of his presidency,” said Meeks (D-Queens), whose district includes parts of Nassau County. “Who was the director’s biggest fan during the campaign? It was . . . (Trump).”
Maloney (D-Manhattan), whose district includes Trump Tower, said it was “imperative that the Congress of the United States begin an immediate and thorough investigation into the President’s firing of the very man who was leading the investigation into the actions of the President and his associates.”
Velázquez (D-Brooklyn) said that with Comey gone, an independent special prosecutor was needed to investigate the alleged Russian election meddling “to provide assurances to the American people that our Democracy is in intact.”