Politics

What California representatives say about Trump firing Comey

FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, May 3, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON        (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
FBI Director James Comey testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, May 3, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON (Photo credit should read JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)
JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

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President Donald Trump on Tuesday fired FBI Director James Comey, who was overseeing an investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election and possible ties to the Trump campaign and top aides.

"The FBI is one of our Nation’s most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement," the president said in the statement.

Members of both parties have been critical of the abrupt termination. But Democrats have been especially skeptical about Trump's motives. Congressman Ted Lieu, who represents the 33rd district in L.A. County, spoke with Morning Edition host Alex Cohen.

"The timing is deeply suspicious. And if you really believe that the President fired Comey because he was somehow unfair to Hillary Clinton, then I've got a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you," Lieu said.

Congressman Adam Schiff , the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, echoed that skepticism. He called Comey's firing "deeply disturbing" in an interview with Take Two.

Schiff told A Martinez, "It's hard to imagine a more tainted decision or a more flawed process. And if the reports are correct that it follows closely on the heels of Director Comey asking for more resources or more agents to work on the Russia investigation, that's a far more credible explanation."

Lieu called on Congress to investigate the firing of James Comey. He wants the House Judiciary committee to hold hearings — and he wants Comey and other top White House officials to testify. The House Judiciary committee will oversees the Department of Justice.

"The president chose to fire the director when he was out of town," Lieu said. "And he did it behind his back with no notice. And that suggests to me there is something big he did not want director Comey to reveal in his official capacity."

Schiff wants to see an independent prosecutor or committee appointed to oversee any investigation into the matter.

Other Southern California politicians have also voiced their thoughts on Comey's firing. Here are some of the responses so far on social media:

Senate

U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein
“President Trump called me at 5:30 p.m. and indicated he would be removing Director Comey, saying the FBI needed a change. The next FBI director must be strong and independent and will receive a fair hearing in the Judiciary Committee.”

U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris
“I’ve said it before and will again – we must have a special prosecutor to oversee the FBI’s Russia investigation. This cannot wait.”

House of Representatives

Rep. John Garamendi (D-Walnut Grove)
“This is serious, this isn’t about a Democrat or a Republican, this is about a bad man in the office.  A fellow that has shown his inability to understand the nuances and the way in which government works, and even the Constitution, to say nothing of public policy.  So we’ve got to get to the bottom of the Russian thing, understand the emoluments clause and that the graft and corruption in this administration is beyond anything we’ve seen since the Teapot Dome scandal in the early 1900s.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland)
“The Trump Administration is in shambles. What is this Administration trying to hide? An independent commission is needed now! #TrumpRussia”

Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance)
“America is great because @POTUS can’t stop an investigation against himself or his associates. FBI Counterintelligence decides how it ends.”

Rep. Scott Peters (D-La Jolla)
“Firing law enforcement officers who may be investigating you or your associates and then appointing their replacements is something that happens in dictatorships – not in the United States of America. This move from the President is breathtaking in its brazen disregard for the independence of our justice system.  Republican members of Congress who fail to stand up against this are complicit in this assault on our democracy.

“The founding fathers made Congress a check on the power of the Presidency. That check only functions when it is used without regard for political party. Congress – Democrats and Republicans – must stand up in a bipartisan defense of our institutions and insist that a special prosecutor be appointed before confirming a new director.

“Never before has it been clearer that the integrity of our democracy depends on an independent commission to investigate Russian interference in our election and a special prosecutor at the Department of Justice to follow an investigation to wherever – and whomever – it leads.  Anyone who stands in the way of an independent investigation denies the American people the answers they deserve.”

Rep. Lucille Royball-Allard (D-Los Angeles)
#Trump firing #Comey only intensifies the need for a thorough investigation of Trump’s ties to #Russia. We must leave no stone unturned.

Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank)
“The decision by a President whose campaign associates are under investigation by the FBI for collusion with Russia to fire the man overseeing that investigation, upon the recommendation of an Attorney General who has recused himself from that investigation, raises profound questions about whether the White House is brazenly interfering in a criminal matter. While I had deep reservations with the way Director Comey handled the investigation into the Clinton emails which I made clear at the time and since, to take this action without addressing the profound conflict of interest of the President and Attorney General harkens back to a similarly tainted decision by President Nixon.

“The same President who has called the investigation into the Russian hacking of our democracy and the potential complicity of his campaign a ‘fake,’ cannot pretend to have made such a decision uninfluenced by his concerns over Comey’s continued involvement in the investigation. It is more imperative than ever that an independent prosecutor be appointed to restore a modicum of public confidence – now completely lacking – that the criminal investigation will continue without further interference by the White House.”

Rep. Brad Sherman (D-Sherman Oaks)
“#Trump fires #Comey. No reason given. What’s Trump trying to hide? More than ever, need #SpecialCounsel to investigate Trump and #Russia. #Trump fired #Comey. Nixon fired Cox, Richardson, and Ruckelshaus. Didn’t work then, won’t work now. #SpecialCounsel #Comey error slight. Emails got to Weiner laptop via “back-up of devices” rather than “forwarding of email.” What’s real reason for firing?”

Eric Swalwell (D-Dublin)
“This is not what an innocent person would do. Firing the guy investigating #RussianHacking — without cause — is consciousness of guilt.”

Norma Torres (D-Pomona)
“Firing #JamesComey as he’s investigating ties b/w Trump campaign & Russia only raises more questions #FollowtheFacts”

KQED News’ Nina Thorsen contributed to this report.