Thu, May 11, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Trump under fire after sacking FBI chief Comey

‘NIXONIAN’:Democratic US Senator Chuck Schumer said every American would rightly suspect the decision to fire FBI director James Comey is part of a cover-up

AFP, WASHINGTON

Then-FBI director James Comey testifies before a US Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on “Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation” on Capitol Hill in Washington on Wednesday last week.

Photo: Reuters

US President Donald Trump yesterday defied a storm of criticism over his firing of FBI director James Comey, inviting Russia’s foreign minister to the White House even as Democrats demanded an independent probe of Moscow’s alleged meddling in the US presidential election.

Trump’s decision on Tuesday to sack Comey effective immediately drew comparisons to the Watergate scandal that brought down former US president Richard Nixon.

“James Comey will be replaced by someone who will do a far better job, bringing back the spirit and prestige of the FBI,” Trump tweeted. “Comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike. When things calm down, they will be thanking me!”

Under Comey, the FBI was investigating whether Trump campaign aides colluded with Russia in an attempt to sway the US election in the Republican’s favor.

Trump used a letter to Comey to try to distance himself from the ever-deepening scandal over Russia’s involvement in the election.

“I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation,” Trump wrote.

Trump said he was acting on the recommendations of his attorney general and deputy attorney general, the latter of whom, Rod Rosenstein, accused Comey of “serious mistakes” in his handling of an investigation into former US secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton’s e-mails.

However, Democrats — and some Republicans — saw the move to get rid of Comey as an assault on the FBI’s Russia probe and demanded that it be turned over to an independent special prosecutor or commission.

“This is nothing less than Nixonian,” said US Senator Patrick Leahy, who called Trump’s justification for firing Comey “absurd.”

“That fig leaf explanation seeks to cover the undeniable truth: The president has removed the sitting FBI director in the midst of one of the most critical national security investigations in the history of our country — one that implicates senior officials in the Trump campaign and administration,” Leahy said.

Trump’s decision to fire the FBI director is virtually unprecedented. Only one director has previously been fired in the bureau’s history.

Democratic US Senator Chuck Schumer said Trump had made a “big mistake.”

Unless the administration appoints an independent special prosecutor to probe the Russian meddling, Schumer added, “every American will rightly suspect that the decision to fire director Comey was part of a cover-up.”

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