Ousted FBI Director James Comey reportedly told associates in March that US President Donald Trump was “outside the realm of normal,” even “crazy.”
Comey made these remarks in March after Trump suggested former President Barack Obama had spied on him, according to a report published by The New York Times on Wednesday.
Trump was furious when Comey publicly dismissed on March 20 his claims that he was wiretapped by Obama during the 2016 campaign before the House Intelligence Committee. Comey told the committee that his agency had “no information” to back Trump’s allegations.
He even requested the Trump administration to withdraw the claim that Obama had ordered an illegal surveillance of Trump Tower before the 2016 presidential election.
On Tuesday, Trump fired Comey, who had been leading a politically-charged investigation into alleged ties between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia, telling him it was time for a “new beginning” at America’s “crown jewel of law enforcement.”
“Comey lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike,” Trump tweeted on Wednesday. “Comey will be replaced by someone who will do a far better job, bringing back the spirit and prestige of the FBI.”
Comey has been criticized by lawmakers in both Republican and Democratic Parties for his handling of investigations connected to the 2016 presidential election — the Russia investigation as well as the inquiry into Clinton’s email practices while she was secretary of state between 2009 and 2013.
FBI Director James Comey was trying to expand the bureau’s investigation ahead of his dismissal by US President Donald Trump, says a congressional source.
Comey recently asked the Justice Department to provide more funding for the FBI probe into alleged ties between Trump’s associates and Russia, the source told Reuters on Wednesday.
As Comey was pressured by lawmakers to speed up the investigation, he notified the Senate intelligence committee of his request, just before being abruptly dismissed by the president on Tuesday.
The president has introduced Andrew McCabe as the acting FBI director to temporarily replace Comey.
‘Trump above law’
The move has outraged Democrats with Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, asserting that the president “wants to cut off any investigation” into his activities.
“I think that there’s just no doubt given the timing that the reason that Comey was fired was because Donald Trump wants to cut off any investigation,” she told CNN Wednesday. “This is a moment in history. Donald Trump has tried to put himself above the law.
“And that’s not how it works in America. The way it works in America is that investigations are independent, no matter how powerful you are, and that everyone has to follow the law.”
The White House announced Comey’s dismissal, citing recommendation by Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to lead the bureau,” the Republican president wrote in a letter to Comey.
Warrens specifically asserted that Rosenstein should explain his role in the dismissal.
“Let’s get the deputy attorney general in here … and let’s put him under oath and let’s let him explain directly to the members of the Judiciary Committee right here in the United States Senate exactly what it is that Director Comey asked for last week.”
Quashing an investigation
Meanwhile, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer called for an “impartial and independent” investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the US 2016 vote that yielded President Trump.
“The only thing we are seeking is that the investigations are carried out in an impartial and independent way, that we get all the facts,” Schumer said. “All we are seeking is some assurance that the subject of this investigation is not able to influence it or, God forbid, quash it.”
Schumer also highlighted Rosenstein’s role in the administration’s move, saying, “Serious doubts have been cast on Mr. Rosenstein’s impartiality… Mr. Rostenstein signed his name to a highly political memo arguing for Director Comey’s dismissal.”
He further defended a Democratic effort to have Comey testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee in a closed-door hearing next week, calling it the “right thing” to do.
“We ought to hear from Mr. Comey. At this moment [there is] a profound doubt about the reasons and timing of FBI Director Comey’s firing by the president, about the status and progress of the very serious investigation into the Trump campaign and Russia by his agency. We require answers,” Schumer said, calling for a special prosecutor to deal with the issue.
No special prosecutor!
Tapping into Comey’s role to undermine the campaign efforts of Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton by revisiting an investigation into her emails, Trump called Democrats “hypocrites.”
“Dems have been complaining for months & months about Dir. Comey. Now that he has been fired they PRETEND to be aggrieved. Phony hypocrites,” he said in a tweet.
According to White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders (pictured above), “The president … had lost confidence in Director Comey… He’d been considering letting Director Comey go since they day he was elected.”
GOPers are, meanwhile, resisting renewed calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor to see into the matter, arguing that it would impede investigations already underway in the House and Senate.
“Today we’ll no doubt hear calls for a new investigation, which could only serve to impede the current work being done,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
The stance was also boosted by Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr as well as the White House spokeswoman.
“We don’t think it’s necessary,” Sanders said. “No one wants this to be finished and completed more than us.”