Government

Comey Firing Draws Sharp Reaction from Ohio Dems

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – President Donald Trump’s surprise firing Tuesday of FBI Director James Comey drew sharp criticism and spurred new calls for an independent investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan and Sen. Sherrod Brown, both Democrats, were quick to react to the firing, while Sen. Rob Portman and Rep. Bill Johnson, both Ohio Republicans, had not offered public statements as of this posting.

Trump, in a letter to Comey, said he had accepted the recommendations of the attorney general and deputy attorney general that he dismiss the FBI director.

“It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission,” Trump wrote. He also said that while he appreciated that Comey had informed him “on three separate occasions” he was not under investigation, he concurred with the Department of Justice’s judgment that Comey was unable to effectively lead the bureau.

In his letter to Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said he based his recommendation on Comey’s handling of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Critics of the decision claim Comey’s firing was over the FBI’s investigation into links between Russia and key Trump associates and his presidential campaign.

Ryan, D-13 Ohio, said in a news release emailed Wednesday evening that while he disagreed with Comey on certain issues, the nature of the FBI director’s position is that it should be insulated from political pressures, which is why directors serve 10-year terms.

Comey’s firing “is yet another disturbing development in the matter of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, and President Trump’s lack of transparency regarding his financial entanglements and dealings with Russia,” Ryan said.

It also “signals a very dark day for the independent nature of the FBI’s work, and further undermines the American people’s trust in our institutions,” he said.

“This development makes clear that we must appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Trump-Russia ties. The American people deserve the truth,” Ryan emphasized.

Brown said Comey’s tenure as FBI director had been “marred by questionable judgment” but he wanted to learn more about why he was removed. Trump’s firing of Comey “in the middle of an investigation into the White House’s ties to Russia raises serious questions” about the bureau’s independence and the integrity of the investigation.

Brown also called on Trump to nominate someone “with an independent record that is beyond reproach” to replace Comey. “Now more than ever, we need an independent investigation into Russian ties to ensure the American people can have full confidence in the findings,” he said.

While he acknowledged the president’s legal authority to remove the FBI director, U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he was disappointed with Trump’s decision.

“James Comey is a man of honor and integrity, and he has led the FBI well in extraordinary circumstances,” McCain said. “I have long called for a special congressional committee to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The president’s decision to remove the FBI Director only confirms the need and the urgency of such a committee.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called on Rosenstein to appoint a special prosecutor for the Russia probe. Failing to do so will lead the public to “rightly suspect” that FBI Director James Comey’s surprise firing Tuesday “was part of a cover-up,” he told reporters yesterday, according to published reports.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.