Washington—Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) today released the following statement calling for Judiciary Committee hearings on the Comey firing:
“President Trump and the White House have presented an ever-changing narrative on the rationale for the firing of FBI Director Comey. This triggers a need for the Judiciary Committee to hold hearings and get to the bottom of this.
“This is a very serious matter, with significant implications for the rule of law and the strength of our democracy. The American people need and deserve the truth about the firing of the FBI Director and its effect on the investigations in Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“Last night, President Trump admitted that he had been considering firing Director Comey since the election. He even admitted that the Russia investigation, which he called ‘this Russia thing’ in his NBC interview, was a motivating factor in his decision to fire Director Comey.
President Trump’s statements are in direct contradiction with previous statements from White House officials implying that the president based his decision on the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Now it appears that the Justice Department’s involvement in this matter was limited to providing a flimsy justification for a decision that had already been made.
Questions about investigation and loyalty pledge
“President Trump reportedly summoned the FBI Director to the White House in January. He said that he asked over dinner whether he was under investigation and there are reports that he requested a loyalty pledge from Director Comey.
First, it’s highly inappropriate for the president to ask the FBI Director about an ongoing investigation. It’s even more inappropriate for the president to ask the FBI Director about whether he is a target of that investigation.
Second, the FBI Director is expected to be independent. He is expected to be loyal to the Constitution and rule of law—not the president. If the president thinks he can control the FBI—the decisions it makes and the investigations it pursues—there are legal as well as constitutional concerns.
The Judiciary Committee should hold hearings to answer the following questions, at a minimum, in a public setting:
• Did the president discuss the ongoing investigations with Director Comey and ask whether he was a target?
• Did the president ask the FBI Director to pledge his loyalty? If so, what did that mean to President Trump?
• Did the president or anyone in the White House ask Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein to provide a justification for firing Director Comey? If so, when did that happen?
• What role specifically did Attorney General Sessions play in the firing of Director Comey?
“I also support Senator Durbin’s call for Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to resign if he is unwilling to appoint a special counsel. These investigations are far too important to risk disruption, delay or interference.
“The bottom line is that the American people need answers. They need to know whether the FBI Director was fired to disrupt an investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. The Judiciary Committee needs to conduct meaningful oversight and ensure the independence and integrity of our system of justice.”