Washington, D.C. — Center for American Progress Senior Fellow Ken Gude issued the following statement after President Donald Trump fired Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey, who was conducting an investigation into the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election.
We need a special prosecutor, and we need one right now. Every step of the way, President Trump has tried to stifle or kill the Russia investigation. Any notion that Trump would fire FBI Director Comey over his handling of the Clinton email investigation is a red herring. No new FBI Director should be confirmed until a special prosecutor is appointed to lead a truly independent investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.
On March 20, Comey officially confirmed that the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign for possible collusion with Russia in its influence operation targeting the 2016 presidential election. That investigation is closing in. In the past 24 hours, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified that the Department of Justice believed Trump’s first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, was compromised by the Russians. And we learned today that congressional committees are expanding their probe into Trump’s financial ties to Russia.
We can see the panic this caused in the White House from Trump’s unhinged tweets over the past two days, including witness intimidation, a bizarre defense of Flynn, and outright fabrications. And today Trump fired Comey.
In light of these developments, the timing is too convenient to believe that Comey’s firing was the result of anything other than an effort to kill the Russia investigation. Trump said that Comey’s actions in October to reopen the Clinton email investigation “took a lot of guts,” and that doing so “was the right thing.” It is inconceivable that Trump would reverse course so dramatically and fire Comey for those same actions.
Trump wants to put his own person in place at the FBI to oversee the investigation into possible collusion with Russia. We should not let him get away with this Tuesday night massacre. No president is above the law. This is not an issue about Democrats or Republicans—this is about Americans and the integrity of our democracy.