Dem senator: FBI director announcement clearly an attempt to 'distract' from hearings

Sen. Mark WarnerMark Robert WarnerHillicon Valley — Presented by Connected Commerce Council — Incident reporting language left out of package Language requiring companies to report cyberattacks left out of defense bill Democrats see Christmas goal slipping away MORE (D-Va.) said Wednesday that the timing of President Trump’s new FBI director appointment — one day before former FBI Director James Comey is set to publicly testify — is an attempt to “distract attention” from the hearings.

"Clearly this is an effort by the president to try to distract attention from our hearings today and our hearings tomorrow,” Warner said on “CBS This Morning.” 


Warner, the top Democrat on the Senate Intelligence Committee, said they need to learn why Trump is "trying to back down this investigation.”

The Democratic senator pointed to Watergate as a historical lesson of when presidents attempt to thwart or influence an investigation.

“If there’s one thing we’ve learned since Watergate, it's not the right role for the president to intervene in an ongoing investigation, particularly when that investigation involves potentially the president and his affiliates," Warner added.

The Virginia lawmaker cited the president's attempt to get Comey to "let" go of his investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn as well as other reported activities surrounding the investigation.

“Not only do we have reports that the president attempted to intervene with FBI Director James Comey and ask him to back off the investigation of Gen. Flynn, which would be totally inappropriate."

"But we also have reports that he also asked the Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsAn independent commission should review our National Defense Strategy Overnight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Former national security officials warn antitrust bills could help China in tech race MORE and the head of the [National Security Agency] Admiral [Mike] Rogers to also back off or try to downplay the FBI investigation into Mr. Trump and his affiliates,” he added, referencing a report by The Washington Post.

Coats, Rogers, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe are expected to testify before the Senate Intelligence panel on Wednesday, a day before Comey is set to testify publicly.

Trump fired Comey from his top investigation post last month amid his agency's ongoing investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Trump announced Wednesday morning he will nominate Christopher Wray to serve as the new FBI director, Comey's successor.

"I will be nominating Christopher A. Wray, a man of impeccable credentials, to be the new Director of the FBI," Trump tweeted.