U.S. Sen. John Boozman, R-Ark., said Americans deserve a “full explanation” as to why President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Arkansas Democrats said the firing is a “constitutional crisis” that now requires an independent investigator.
On Tuesday afternoon, President Trump surprised the nation by firing Comey. The President said Wednesday he fired Comey because he “wasn’t doing a good job.” White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday the president first considered firing Comey in January.
Comey was fired after Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein sent a letter to the Trump White House saying he had lost confidence in Comey.
Comey’s firing has raised alarms because he is the third person – along with former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and U.S. Prosecuting Attorney Preet Bharara – to be fired by the Trump administration who was also involved in investigations of alleged meddling by Russia in the 2016 presidential election cycle. It was learned Wednesday that Comey had in recent days asked for more money and resources to pursue the Russian investigation.
Boozman expressed gratitude for Comey’s service.
“The work undertaken on a daily basis by the men and women of the FBI is vital to the safety and security of our nation. I am grateful for James Comey’s integrity and service during his tenure as the bureau’s director, despite being placed in some very difficult situations over the past year,” the state’s senior U.S. Senator said in a statement.
Continuing, Boozman noted: “The Russian investigations will continue. I have full confidence in my colleagues and the professional staff leading the investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“Americans deserve a full explanation as to the circumstances of the decision to immediately remove Mr. Comey from his post. Our country has lost faith in many of our institutions and a better public accounting of this situation, along with a thorough and fair confirmation process for the next FBI Director, can help restore some of that broken trust.”
SEN. BOOZMAN: COMEY HAD ‘BECOME A DISTRACTION’
In a Wednesday afternoon television interview with Talk Business & Politics, Boozman said he hopes an explanation will come soon.
“I’m a transparency guy. I think that the sooner the better,” Boozman said. “I really would like to hear the President, I’d like to hear his people, the Department of (Justice) come out and explain exactly why it was done so suddenly, what was in the report that was prepared for the President, and then kind of go from there.”
Boozman said in the interview that Comey did a “tremendous job” of keeping the country safe from domestic terrorist threats, but “Director Comey had become a distraction,” with Republicans and Democrats having criticized his comments before and after the November election.
Boozman would not rule out the need for a special investigation, but said “right now I think we’re in a good position,” with the investigations already underway. He also said it is important for President Trump to nominate a Comey replacement who is “beyond reproach” to Republicans and Democrats.
“The decks have been cleared. We need to get somebody in place that everyone has confidence in and then we can go forward,” Boozman said.
NEED DIRECTOR OF ‘UNIMPEACHABLE INTEGRITY’
U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., who serves on the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said he expects more information from the administration as to why Comey was fired.
“The FBI Director reports directly to the Deputy Attorney General and it’s clear from Rod Rosenstein’s letter that he had lost confidence in Director Comey. It’s hard to stay on the job under those circumstances. I expect the Deputy Attorney General to testify to Congress to explain more of his reasoning and the timing, but the most important thing now is that the President nominate a new director of unimpeachable integrity and unquestioned independence to lead the FBI,” Cotton said in a statement.
U.S. Rep. Steve Womack, R-Rogers, said “the timing of Director Comey’s dismissal is concerning to some,” but people like Comey “serve at the will of the president.”
U.S. Rep. French Hill, R-Little Rock, said he plans to further review why Comey was fired, and said the investigation into Russian influence should continue.
“I am carefully reviewing the background and rationale for the Director’s dismissal last night by President Trump. The firing of an FBI Director is a reasonable cause for concern for the American people who deserve an FBI that is immune to any political influence. Due to the delicate nature of this important situation, I do not feel it is appropriate for me to deliver an opinion on the matter without having received all of the facts. Having said that, the president needs to quickly appoint someone to the job who not only he feels confident can fairly uphold the law, but the American people can feel confident in as well. I also support the continued FBI investigation into potential Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the House and Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigations must continue unimpeded by this decision,” Hill said in his statement.
U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, R-Jonesboro, and Bruce Westerman, R-Hot Springs, did not issue a statement.
COMEY FIRING ‘MAKES NO SENSE’
Conner Eldridge, former U.S. Prosecuting Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas and a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in the 2016 election cycle, said Comey was wrong to talk about an ongoing investigation, but his sudden firing is troubling.
“While Comey was wrong to comment on a pending investigation last year, his firing raises serious questions that demand answers. Did Trump really fire Comey for mishandling the Clinton case? That makes no sense because Trump repeatedly praised Comey’s actions. So why was Comey fired and, more importantly, who is going to ensure an impartial investigation of all issues concerning Russian interference in the election? The solution is a special prosecutor and one should be appointed immediately,” Eldridge noted in a statement to Talk Business & Politics.
Michael John Gray, chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas and a state representative from Augusta, criticized Arkansas’ congressional delegation “for their collective inaction” to what he says is a “Constitutional crisis.”
Gray issued this statement: “I am calling on our congressional delegation to demand that an independent counsel be appointed to oversee the investigation. This is about protecting the integrity of the United States Constitution. This is not partisan and it is not complicated. Our President has created a constitutional crisis and the clearest path toward unwinding this crisis is to appoint an independent investigator.
“It is shameful that not one of our elected officials in Arkansas has expressed any concern that President Trump has stolen a page from Richard Nixon’s playbook. To fire a guy who is investigating your administration, it does not pass the smell test. Arkansans deserve better from the people we send to Washington.
“No one is above the truth, not even our President – and Americans deserve the truth.”