Politics

Florida politicians react to firing of FBI director Comey

Then-FBI Director James Comey pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 3, before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. President Donald Trump abruptly fired Comey on Tuesday.
Then-FBI Director James Comey pauses as he testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington on May 3, before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing. President Donald Trump abruptly fired Comey on Tuesday. AP

After President Donald Trump unexpectedly fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, Florida Democrats in Congress — led by Sen. Bill Nelson — called for an independent prosecutor or commission to investigate Russian meddling in last year’s election.

At least one Republican, Miami Rep. Carlos Curbelo, reiterated his support for the creation of a select committee to investigate. Other Republicans, including Sen. Marco Rubio, did not respond to a request for comment but told ABC News Comey’s employment was up to Trump.

Here are how South Florida members of Congress reacted to Comey’s firing:

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida:

“Now it is more clear than ever that we need an independent commission to get to the truth of Russia’s interference with our election.”

U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Miami:

“Today’s extraordinary decision raises many questions all of which must be answered. Congress and the American people need a transparent explanation as to how this decision was reached and why it was executed at this time. It is critical that the FBI can continue all of its pending work with independence and integrity — especially the investigation into the Russian government’s efforts to influence our last election and undermine American democracy. Today I reiterate the need for Congress to establish a Select Committee with full investigatory powers to thoroughly examine this matter.”

U.S. Rep. Ted Deutch, D-Boca Raton:

“Not since President Nixon have we seen such a disgraceful abuse of power and attack on the integrity of our system of justice. During one of the most important national security investigations of our time, Director Comey's firing is a blatant attack on the independence of the Justice Department. This behavior — firing the person who is investigating you — may pass in Putin’s Russia, but it is disgracefully below the office of the President of the United States.

“This is only the latest in a string of alarming moves by the White House: first they fired acting-Attorney General Yates for calling attention to their compromised National Security Advisor, then Preet Bharara, and now Director Comey.

“Attorney General Sessions has lost any remaining credibility by getting involved in an investigation from which he promised to recuse himself. Given the actions of the White House, the American people unfortunately must now question whether anyone affiliated with this Administration can investigate this case of Russian influence honestly, thoroughly, and independently. We need a special prosecutor and an independent commission to continue this investigation without the whiff of political oversight or interference.”

U.S. Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Miami:

“It is clear that Director Comey had lost the confidence of the Deputy Attorney General, Attorney General, and the President. Unfortunately, he became a controversial and divisive figure due to perceptions that he either helped Secretary Clinton by not moving forward with an investigation, or that he helped then-Candidate Trump with his delayed announcement on October 28th. The office of the FBI Director should be above controversy, and I look forward to having an FBI Director that will have the full trust of the American people.”

U.S. Rep. Lois Frankel, D-West Palm Beach:

“I am no fan of Director Comey, but I’m deeply disturbed by President Trump’s decision to fire the man who is investigating him. This just goes to show that it’s now more important than ever to appoint an independent prosecutor to investigate Russian interference in our presidential election, and possible Russian coordination with the Trump campaign.”

U.S. Rep. Alcee Hastings, D-Delray Beach:

“The FBI Director’s firing cries out for a Special Prosecutor. Up until the moment of his dismissal, Director Comey was actively investigating President Donald John Trump’s connection to Russian interference in the 2016 election. The American people deserve to know why Director Comey was fired without reason and Donald Trump needs to explain himself immediately.”

U.S. Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Weston:

“This is a dark day for justice in America. The conduct of FBI Director James Comey before the 2016 Election was certainly disturbing, and undoubtedly deserved criticism and scrutiny. But the reasoning and timing behind this firing is absolutely preposterous and unbelievable. It smacks of a Nixon-esque cover up of President Trump’s Kremlin ties. And with this egregious political power play, there is now no question that a special prosecutor is needed, because Americans absolutely deserve an open, independent investigation into Trump’s Russian connections.”

U.S. Rep. Frederica Wilson, D-Miami Gardens:

“Like many, I was stunned to learn that President Trump has fired FBI director James Comey. This dismissal came as Comey was leading an investigation into whether individuals connected to the president coordinated with Russia to impact the 2016 presidential election.

“This abrupt action raises many serious questions and is further proof that an independent prosecutor should be named to head the Russia investigation. It also could make the possibility of such an appointment more likely. The president may think that firing Comey will help his case, but no matter who conducts the investigation, Comey will now likely be called to testify under oath and his words could do the administration far more harm than good.”

This story has been updated.

Tampa Bay Times Washington Bureau Chief Alex Leary contributed to this report.

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