Senate

GOP Intelligence chairman troubled by Trump’s firing of FBI director

Keren Carrion

Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said Tuesday he is “troubled by the timing and reasoning” of President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.

“I have found Director Comey to be a public servant of the highest order, and his dismissal further confuses an already difficult investigation by the committee,” Burr said in a statement.

The chairman is leading a Senate investigation into Russia’s influence over the 2016 presidential election.  

{mosads}“In my interactions with the director and with the bureau under his leadership, he and the FBI have always been straightforward with our committee,” Burr said. “Director Comey has been more forthcoming with information than any FBI director I can recall in my tenure on the congressional intelligence committees.”

Burr’s statement, along with statements of concerns Tuesday evening by two other Republican chairmen, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), raises pressure on Republicans to endorse the appointment of a special prosecutor or the creation of an independent committee to examine Russia’s influence on domestic politics.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has for months steadfastly refused to endorse the appointment of a special prosecutor or independent commission to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election or Russia’s ties to senior advisors to President Trump.

Sen. Mark Warner (Va.), the ranking Democrat on the Intelligence panel, on Tuesday said Trump’s firing of Comey underscores the need for a special counsel.

“That’s the only way the American people will be able to trust the results of the DOJ investigation,” he said in a statement. “The only way this administration can begin to demonstrate a commitment to the rule of law, which has so far been sorely lacking, is to cooperate fully with the ongoing congressional investigations and to support the appointment of an independent counsel,” Warner said.

Trump fired Comey based on the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, White House press secretary Sean Spicer told reporters.
 
Trump argued in a letter to Comey, released by the White House, that the FBI needs a new leader so it can restore “pubic trust and confidence.”
  
Comey has meet with the Senate Intelligence Committee several times since it started its investigation and was scheduled to testify later this week as part of an annual public hearing on worldwide threats. 
 
Burr is the latest high-profile GOP senator to distance himself from the announcement. GOP Sens. Bob Corker (Tenn.) and John McCain (Ariz.) also offered tepid reactions to Trump’s move.
 
Corker, who chairs the Foreign Relations Committee, said the timing of the firing would raise questions, while McCain, who chairs the Armed Services Committee, said he was “disappointed” in the decision. 
 
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) sidestepped weighing directly into the firing decision. 
 
Jordain Carney contributed. 
Tags Bob Corker Jeff Sessions John McCain Mark Warner Mitch McConnell Richard Burr

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