Published: Sat, May 13, 2017
Business | By Max Garcia

Federal Bureau of Investigation firing roils Congress amid battle over special prosecutor

Attorneys general "are on the front lines when it comes to defending the rule of law and their constituents' basic rights-whether it's this letter on the Comey firing, or the lawsuits against the immigration ban" or action around other issues, Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who signed the letter, said by email.

The White House has vigorously defended the decision to remove Mr Comey despite condemnation from both parties in Washington.

During a visit to Capitol Hill on Thursday, Rosenstein told Sinclair Broadcast Group that he is not resigning and that he did not threaten to quit.

Newly installed acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe testifies Thursday in an open hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee, one of three Senate panels investigating the Russian Federation allegations. Trump, however, did not respond to a question about whether the new FBI Director would be in charge of the investigation into Russia's contacts with his election campaign.

According to the New York Times, Comey had been taken aback by Trump's Twitter claims that then-President Barack Obama had been wire-tapping Trump Tower during the U.S. election.

Other factors in this decision, apart their obvious personality clash, include the FBI investigation into alleged Russian interference in the United States election, as well as Comey's refusal to furnish Trump's team with a copy of his planned testimony to a Senate panel last week.

Comey was officially sacked for mishandling a high-stakes probe into the emails of Trump's presidential rival, Hillary Clinton.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Trump had pondered dumping Comey as soon as he took office on January 20, but chose to stick with him.

"Simply put, sir, you can not stop the men and women of the Federal Bureau of Investigation from doing the right thing, protecting the American people, and upholding the Constitution".

Trump's letter firing Comey says that Comey informed Trump "on three separate occasions" that Trump was not under investigation - conversations that would be counter to Justice Department policies preventing discussions of current investigations with White House officials.

"It makes me mildly nauseous to think we might have had some impact on the election", Mr Comey said.

Former justice department official Eric Columbus is among those noting that Mr Rosenstein stopped short of specifically recommending that Mr Comey be fired.

Outraged Democrats called for an independent investigation into the Trump campaign's possible ties to Russia's election interference, and a handful of prominent Republican senators left open that possibility.

McCabe took the former director's place at the hearing and assured senators that Comey's firing would not negatively affect the Russian Federation investigation.

But sources cited by CNN said Rosenstein's purported role in Comey's firing seemed out of place. Sen Dick Durbin, D-Ill, said that while he couldn't be certain the request triggered Comey's dismissal, he said he believed the FBI "was breathing down the neck of the Trump campaign and their operatives and this was an effort to slow down the investigation".

He suggested on Twitter that Mr Rosenstein "thought Comey screwed up but didn't want him fired with Russian Federation investigation pending. yet Sessions wanted a memo on Comey's sins, and Rosenstein felt he had to oblige his boss".

His firing was recommended by the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, and the attorney general Jeff Sessions. He griped about Comey for several days, including in late-night calls from the White House residence.

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