Schumer to Trump: Comey firing a 'big mistake'

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerOvernight Health Care: Dem chair meets Trump health chief on drug prices | Trump officials sued over new Kentucky Medicaid work rules | Democrats vow to lift ban on federal funds for abortions We can’t tackle climate change if we ignore the main polluter — transportation Hoyer introducing legislation to block Trump from lifting sanctions on Russian companies MORE (D-N.Y.) says he told President Trump that his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey was a "big mistake."

"Earlier this afternoon President Trump called me and informed me he was firing Director Comey," Schumer told reporters on Tuesday. "I told the president, 'Mr. President, with all due respect, you are making a big mistake.’ ”

He added that Trump didn't "really respond" to his comment.

Trump fired Comey on Tuesday based on the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard Sessions5 takeaways from Barr’s testimony AG pick Barr emphasizes independence from Trump Hillicon Valley: Trump AG pick signals new scrutiny on tech giants | Wireless providers in new privacy storm | SEC brings charges in agency hack | Facebook to invest 0M in local news MORE and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters.

Trump wrote in a letter to Comey that the FBI has to restore "public trust and confidence."

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Republican senators largely defended Comey's termination. Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynTrump created a competition of crises: The border or the shutdown Senators restart shutdown talks — and quickly hit roadblocks Former GOP rep: We would be 'storming the White House' if Obama mulled national emergency MORE (R-Texas) pointed out the FBI director "serves at the pleasure of the president."

Schumer said that the "first question" for the Trump administration is why the president decided to fire Comey now. The FBI is investigating Russia's meddling in the 2016 White House race, as well as any connections between Trump's campaign and Moscow.

"Were these investigations getting too close to home for the president?" Schumer asked during his quickly scheduled press conference.

Schumer also linked Comey's firing to the ouster of former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and reiterated his call for the Department of Justice to appoint a special prosecutor for the probe into the 2016 election.

"This is part of a deeply troubling pattern from the Trump administration," Schumer said. "This does not seem to be a coincidence."

Democrats have called for months for the Department of Justice to appoint a special counsel, arguing someone appointed by the president would face political pressure.

Schumer added that if Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, refuses to appoint a special prosecutor, "every American will rightly suspect that the decision to fire Director Comey was part of a coverup."

"This investigation must be run as far away as possible from this White House," he said.