US President Trump fired James Comey as the director of the FBI. The decision came as Comey was leading a counterintelligence investigation into potential Russian interference in the 2016 election. Officials said it resulted from a conclusion by Justice Department officials that he had mishandled a probe of Hillary Clinton's emails.
Here is reaction from members of Congress:
FROM THE SENATE
Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.)
On CNN: "It is an abuse of power if the FBI was in fact investigating the president of the United States. For the president to fire someone who has him under active investigation is in my view an abuse of power."
"If there was every any doubt about the need for a special independent prosecutor, which I've been advocating for months, there is no question now."
"Only a special prosecutor can hold accountable anyone who colluded with the Russians ... and the president himself has to be deemed a potential target. If not right at this moment then a potential target in the future because his associates in that campaign are targets right now."
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.)
"Director Comey has served the country well in a number of different roles. Many, including myself, have questioned his actions more than once over the past year. I believe new leadership at the FBI will restore confidence in the organisation and among the people who do the hard work to carry out its mission."
Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio)
Tweeted: "Now more than ever, we need an independent investigation into Russian ties to ensure American people can have full confidence in findings."
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.)
"I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey's termination. I have found Director Comey to be a public servant of the highest order, and his dismissal further confuses an already difficult investigation by the Committee. In my interactions with the Director and with the Bureau under his leadership, he and the FBI have always been straightforward with our Committee. Director Comey has been more forthcoming with information than any FBI Director I can recall in my tenure on the congressional intelligence committees. His dismissal, I believe, is a loss for the Bureau and the nation."
Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.)
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine)
"The Justice Department was really understaffed for a long time, it took a while for the attorney general to be confirmed and his deputy was just confirmed I believe a week or so ago, and it's the deputy who is a career prosecutor who had been designated to do the analysis so the FBI director's actions and came up with the recommendation.
"The president did not fire the entire FBI. He fired the director of the FBI. And any suggestion that this is somehow going to stop the FBI's investigation of the attempts by the Russians to influence the elections last fall is really patently absurd. This is just one person, it's the director, the investigation is going forward both at the FBI and in the Senate Intel Committee in a bipartisan way. SO I don't think there's any link at all."
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.)
"While the case for removal of Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey laid out by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein was thorough, his removal at this particular time will raise questions. It is essential that ongoing investigations are fulsome and free of political interference until their completion, and it is imperative that President Trump nominate a well-respected and qualified individual to lead the bureau at this critical time."
Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.)
Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.)
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)
"President Trump called me at 5:30 p.m. and indicated he would be removing Director Comey, saying the FBI needed a change. The next FBI director must be strong and independent and will receive a fair hearing in the Judiciary Committee."
Sen. Kirsten Gillbrand (D-N.Y.)
Tweeted: No more excuses: "We need an independent special prosecutor to investigate the Trump Administration's ties to Russia."
Sen. Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee
"Over the course of the last several months, Director Comey's decisions on controversial matters have prompted concern from across the political spectrum and from career law enforcement experts.
"The handling of the Clinton email investigation is a clear example of how Comey's decisions have called into question the trust and political independence of the FBI. In my efforts to get answers, the FBI, under Comey's leadership, has been slow or failed to provide information that Comey himself pledged to provide.
"The effectiveness of the FBI depends upon the public trust and confidence. Unfortunately, this has clearly been lost.
"The FBI Director serves at the pleasure of the president. Under these circumstances, President Trump accepted the recommendation of the Justice Department that the Director lacked the confidence needed to carry out his important duties."
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.)
"I know this was a difficult decision for all concerned.
"I appreciate Director Comey's service to our nation in a variety of roles.
"Given the recent controversies surrounding the director, I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well. I encourage the President to select the most qualified professional available who will serve our nation's interests."
Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.)
Tweeted: "I've said it before and will again - we must have a special prosecutor to oversee the FBI's Russia investigation. This cannot wait. https://twitter.com/AP/status/862062176659492864 ..."
Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.)
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.)
Sen. James Lankford (R-Okla.)
"James Comey had an incredibly difficult job in his role as FBI Director and I am grateful for his service. The issues that our law enforcement, intelligence community, and congressional committees deal with each day are very sensitive and have life or death implications. Director Comey has been the public face representing thousands of committed law enforcement officers and civil servants within the intelligence community. In the days ahead, the American people need clarity and deserve an explanation for his immediate firing. It is unfortunate that over the past year the Director had lost the trust of so many people on both sides of the aisle. It is now important that the Senate confirm the next FBI Director with a thorough and fair process."
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.)
The President's action, and the way it has been handled, is shocking. No one should accept President Trump's absurd justification that he is now concerned that FBI Director Comey treated Secretary Clinton unfairly. The President in fact celebrated the Director's mistakes in that investigation. That fig leaf explanation seeks to cover the undeniable truth: The President has removed the sitting FBI Director in the midst of one of the most critical national security investigations in the history of our country - one that implicates senior officials in the Trump campaign and administration. This is nothing less than Nixonian.
Given that the Attorney General supposedly recused himself from the Russia investigation, he should not have played any role in removing the lead investigator from his duties. Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein now has no choice but to appoint a Special Counsel. His integrity, and the integrity of the entire Justice Department, are at stake.
The President's letter, in which he refers to Russian interference and possible collusion with the President's associates, is bizarre and raises troubling questions about the President's motivations.
There simply is no avoiding the compelling fact that this cascading situation demands the prompt appointment of an independent Special Counsel to pick up the pieces of these investigations.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.)
Manchin said the firing would "not impede the committee's investigation" into Russia and the election. He wanted to know more about why the firing took place, but brushed off a question about whether the president had abused his power.
"I can't say whether it was right or wrong, but it's very shocking," Manchin said of Comey's firing. "He got involved a political campaign. There's a lot of blame and there were a lot of high emotions."
Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.)
"President Trump's firing of Director Comey sets a deeply alarming precedent as multiple investigations into possible Trump campaign or administration collusion with Russia remain ongoing, including an FBI investigation. This episode is disturbingly reminiscent of the Saturday Night Massacre during the Watergate scandal and the national turmoil that it caused. We are careening ever closer to a Constitutional crisis, and this development only underscores why we must appoint a special prosecutor to fully investigate any dealings the Trump campaign or administration had with Russia."
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.)
"While the President has the legal authority to remove the Director of the FBI, I am disappointed in the President's decision to remove James Comey from office. James Comey is a man of honor and integrity, and he has led the FBI well in extraordinary circumstances. I have long called for a special congressional committee to investigate Russia's interference in the 2016 election. The president's decision to remove the FBI Director only confirms the need and the urgency of such a committee."
Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.)
"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."
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
"Donald Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey raises serious questions about what his administration is hiding. Why did President Trump fire the person leading the investigation into possible collusion between his campaign and the Russian government? I find it deeply troubling that this decision comes a day after damning testimony by former acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Russia's ties to the Trump campaign and just days before Comey was scheduled to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee.
"President Trump has repeatedly taken steps to kill inquiries into Russia's involvement in the U.S. election. It is clear that whomever President Trump handpicks to lead the FBI will not be able to objectively carry out this investigation. We need an independent investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia."
Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)
Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.)
"I told the president, Mr President, with all due respect, you're making a big mistake," he said at a press conference. "The first question the administration has to answer is: Why now?"
"We know the FBI has been looking into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. Were these investigations getting too close to home for the president?
"Mr. Rosenstein, America depends on you to restore faith in our criminal justice system, which is going to be badly shattered after the administration's actions.
"They fired Sally Yates. They fired Preet Bhahra. And they fired James Comey, the very man leading he investigation. This does not seem to be a coincidence.
"Any person that he appoints will be concerned that he will meet the same fate as Director Comey.
"The American people need to have faith that an investigation as serious as this one is being led impartially.
"If Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein does not appoint an independent prosecutor, every American will rightly suspect that the decision to fire Director Comey was part of a cover-up."
Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.)
Tweeted: "Deeply troubling that President Trump fired FBI Dir. Comey, who was leading Trump-Russia investigation. We need an independent prosecutor!"
Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.)
Tweeted: "It defies logic to believe @POTUS fired Comey for any other reason than to interfere with the #TrumpRussia investigation."
Sen. Mark R. Warner (D-Va.)
"The President's actions today are shocking. It is deeply troubling that the President has fired the FBI director during an active counterintelligence investigation into improper contacts between the Trump campaign and Russia.
"The administration insists there's no 'there there,' yet President Trump has so far fired the acting Attorney General, nearly every U.S. attorney, and now the Director of the FBI. In addition, this President's choice for Attorney General has been forced to recuse himself, and the National Security Advisor has resigned, as a result of undisclosed contacts with Russian officials.
"Now more than ever, it is vital that our ongoing investigation is completed in a credible and bipartisan way. We also need to hear directly from former Director Comey about the FBI investigation and related events.
"The President's actions today make it clear to me that a Special Counsel also must be appointed. That's the only way the American people will be able to trust the results of any DOJ investigation. The only way this Administration can begin to demonstrate a commitment to the rule of law, which has so far been sorely lacking, is to cooperate fully with the ongoing congressional investigations and to support the appointment of an independent special counsel."
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.)
"While the White House is under investigation by the FBI, firing the head of the FBI raises massive questions, and the Senate should get to the bottom of it. America needs to have confidence that the Department of Justice will fill its traditional role of following the facts fearlessly, and prosecuting whomever has violated the law no matter the office they hold."
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore)
"I have been long been a critic of Director Comey, for his views about surveillance and torture, his stance on secret law and his conduct during the investigation into Secretary Clinton. But Donald Trump's decision to fire him now, in the midst of an investigation into Trump associates and their ties to Russia, is outrageous. Director Comey should be immediately called to testify in an open hearing about the status of the investigation into Russia and Trump associates at the time he was fired.
"There can be no question that a fully independent special counsel must be appointed to lead this investigation. At this point, no one in Trump's chain of command can be trusted to carry out an impartial investigation.
"The president would do well to remember that in America, the truth always comes out."
FROM THE HOUSE
Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.)
Rep. Jim Banks (R-Ind.)
Tweeted: "Director Comey lost the trust of both Rs and Ds. Our next FBI Director must be non-partisan and widely respected."
Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.)
Tweeted: "Bipartisan Congressional investigations will continue. Actively seeking additional info on President's decision before commenting further."
Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.)
Tweeted: "I've said it before and will say it again: we need an independent prosecutor NOW!"
Rep. Katherine Clark (D-Mass.)
Tweeted: "Trump firing FBI Dir Comey reinforces the need for an immediate independent investigation into Trump's ties to Russia."
Rep. John Conyers Jr. (D-Mich.)
"Today's action by President Trump completely obliterates any semblance of an independent investigation into Russian efforts to influence our election, and places our nation on the verge of a constitutional crisis. There is little doubt that the President's actions harken our nation back to Watergate and the "Saturday Night Massacre." This decision makes it clear that we must have an independent, non-partisan commission to investigate both Russian interference in the U.S. election and allegations of collusion between the government of Vladimir Putin and the Trump campaign. Today's actions reek of a cover up and appear to be part of an ongoing effort by the Trump White House to impede the investigation into Russian ties and interference in our elections.
"I am particularly concerned that President Trump fired Director Comey based in part on the recommendation of Attorney General Sessions-who was forced to recuse himself from the underlying investigation based on his own actions and misconduct. This shocking decision by the President is beyond the pale and itself warrants independent inquiry and hearings, and reinforces the need for the Attorney General himself to step down given his own obvious and ongoing conflicts.
"Though we may not have always agreed with James Comey, he was critical to overseeing the ongoing investigation into Russian interference with the 2016 election. The Administration's after-the-fact efforts to rationalize this blatantly self-serving political firing-by complaining about the manner Director Comey handled the investigation into Secretary Clinton's emails-is too cute by half and does not even pass the smell test."
Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.)
Tweeted: "The firing of #FBI Director Comey is a stunning development that doesn't pass the smell test."
Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.)
"Congress needs to have immediate emergency hearings to obtain testimony directly from Attorney General Sessions, the deputy attorney general, and FBI Director Comey. The White House was already covering up for Michael Flynn by refusing to provide a single document to Congress, and now the President fired the one independent person who was doing the most to investigate President Trump and his campaign over allegations of coordination with Russia. It is mindboggling that the Attorney General - who claimed to have recused himself - was directly involved in the decision to fire Director Comey according to the White House itself. There is now a crisis of confidence at the Justice Department, and President Trump is not being held accountable because House Republicans refuse to work with us to do our job. Congress must restore credibility, accountability, and transparency to this investigation and finally pass legislation to create a truly independent commission."
Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.)
Tweeted: "I look forward to the President nominating a strong director who will keep the FBI focused on core mission & out of the political thicket."
Rep. Suzan DeLBene (D-Wash.)
Rep. Theodore Deutch (D-Fla.)
Tweeted: "I thought the Attorney General recused himself from the Russia investigation - the one the #FBIDirector was leading. #SpecialProsecutor now."
Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.)
Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.)
Tweeted: "Comey's sudden dismissal looks an awful lot like a cover-up. How long will Congressional Republicans let him get away with these moves?"
Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.)
"Director Comey had a very difficult job. I appreciate his service to our country as both a federal prosecutor and the head of the FBI. I had my differences with him on some matters but never lost sight of the fact that he had a very difficult job and undoubtedly had access to facts that perhaps the rest of us did not. I am thankful for his service to our country and am hopeful our President will select an independent minded person to serve as the head of our nation's premier law enforcement agency. Our justice system is the foundation of our republic. It must be both respected and fully worthy of our respect."
Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.)
Tweeted: "Trump to Comey: "You're fired because of #Russia." American people to Trump: #IndependentInvestigationNow"
Rep. Luis V. Gutiérrez (D-Ill.)
Tweeted: "Trump is up to no good in firing #Comey which is why we need #SpecialProsecutor https://twitter.com/RepGutierrez/status/862075605193560064 ..."
Rep. Alcee L. Hastings (D-Fla.)
Tweeted: "The American people deserve to know why Director #Comey was fired without reason & Donald Trump needs to explain himself immediately. (3/3)"
Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.)
Rep. William R. Keating (D-Mass.)
Tweeted: "As a former prosecutor, Comey firing again underscores the need for independent investigation of Trump campaign. (1/2)"
Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis)
"Today's rash decision by President Trump to fire FBI Director James Comey is a grotesque abuse of power. I am unaware of any justifiable reason that would show just cause for the firing of the FBI Director. I call on congressional leadership to schedule hearings so we can get to the bottom of this. I hope and pray this had nothing to do with the FBI's independent investigation into Russian interference and possible collusion of Trump associates with Russia during the 2016 election."
Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Ill.)
Rep. Sander M. Levin (D-Mich.)
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Calif.)
"I find Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey to be deeply shocking. As a former prosecutor, I believe his action suggests consciousness of guilt and is similar to what former President Richard Nixon did when faced with investigations against his own associates."
"Under the leadership of Director Comey, the FBI Counterintelligence Division is currently investigating associates of Donald Trump and perhaps Trump himself. The FBI may also be investigating Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The recommendation by Attorney General Sessions to fire Comey and the President's action of firing Comey suggest evidence of a massive cover up."
"In addition, Attorney General Sessions violated his own recusal terms by taking part in removing the head of the FBI who was leading a counterintelligence investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia."
"I again call for a Special Prosecutor to investigate this grave matter. I also call for the House Judiciary Committee to subpoena Attorney General Sessions and FBI Director Comey to testify in an open hearing as soon as possible."
Rep. Sean Maloney (D-N.Y.)
Tweeted: "For 2nd time in U.S. history POTUS has fired Director of the FBI. It's a Tuesday night massacre. #ComeyFiring"
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.)
Tweeted: ".@realDonaldTrump FBI Director Comey was leading the investigation into #TrumpRussia ties. @realDonaldTrump's decision makes fair investigation impossible."
Rep. Richard Neal (D-Mass.)
Tweeted: "POTUS has now fired FBI Director. Acting AG and US Atty investigated his ties to #Russia. We need independent investigation now."
Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.)
Tweeted: "The firing of #JamesComey is the latest, & perhaps most clear, example of the Trump admin's actions to impede accountability & transparency."
Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr. (D-N.J.)
Tweeted: "This isn't an episode of The Apprentice. In order to protect our most respected institutions, maybe it's Mr. Trump who should be fired."
Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.)
Tweeted: "Trump loved Comey when he was investigating Clinton emails. When Comey investigated #TrumpRussia, Trump fired him."
Rep. Kathleen Rice (D-N.Y.)
Tweeted: "President Trump just fired the FBI Director in the midst of an ongoing FBI investigation into the Trump campaign. This is a crisis. #Comey"
Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio)
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.)
"The decision by a President whose campaign associates are under investigation by the FBI for collusion with Russia to fire the man overseeing that investigation, upon the recommendation of an Attorney General who has recused himself from that investigation, raises profound questions about whether the White House is brazenly interfering in a criminal matter. While I had deep reservations with the way Director Comey handled the investigation into the Clinton emails which I made clear at the time and since, to take this action without addressing the profound conflict of interest of the President and Attorney General harkens back to a similarly tainted decision by President Nixon.
"The same President who has called the investigation into the Russian hacking of our democracy and the potential complicity of his campaign a 'fake,' cannot pretend to have made such a decision uninfluenced by his concerns over Comey's continued involvement in the investigation. It is more imperative than ever that an independent prosecutor be appointed to restore a modicum of public confidence - now completely lacking - that the criminal investigation will continue without further interference by the White House."
Rep. Krysten Sinema (D-Ariz.)
Tweeted: "It's painfully obvious: Congress must establish an independent investigation into Russian interference in US elections."
Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-N.Y.)
Tweeted: "Special Prosecutor must be appointed immediately to conduct investigation into the Putin/Russia/Trump relationship
Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-Calif.)
"President Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey - who less than two months ago told the House Intelligence Committee that the President and his Administration were the subject of criminal and counterintelligence investigations regarding their close personal, political and financial ties to Russia and Russia's active interference in our 2016 presidential election on Trump's behalf - should send a chill down the spine of every American, no matter who they voted for. This is not what an innocent person would do; this is an abuse of power, and shows a consciousness of guilt.
"The administration of justice must remain free of political influence, and President Trump has just leaped over that line. If he thinks this will halt or even slow investigations into his and his associates' conduct, he is sadly mistaken. The American people deserve to know what happened, and Trump's 'Tuesday Afternoon Massacre' won't interfere. Nobody recommended by this administration can be trusted to oversee this investigation, and so the need for an independent bipartisan commission is now more urgent than ever."
Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-N.J.)
Tweeted: "Who is in charge of this investigation now? It has never been more clear that we need an independent prosecutor."