May 10, 2017
Comey’s Firing Is an Assault on Democracy; Attorney General Jeff Sessions Must Go
Statement of Robert Weissman, President of Public Citizen
We’ve just plunged into a constitutional crisis.
President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey is intolerable and an assault on our democracy.
Our democracy will wither if the president believes himself above the law and empowered to fire law enforcement officials for the “crime” of investigating the president’s wrongdoing. Democrat, Republican or Independent — every American should be alarmed at the Trump regime’s rush to authoritarianism.
There is no way for the FBI to credibly conduct an independent investigation into the Russia allegations. Here’s what we need:
First, we need both a special prosecutor and a congressionally created, fully funded and independent investigative commission to get to the bottom of what, if anything, happened.
Second, there must be an investigation into the Comey firing itself. In this special circumstance, the FBI should be directed immediately to disclose all ongoing criminal investigations related to the Trump campaign and the Trump administration. It’s possible that there are other, non-Russian motivations for the firing. And the Justice Department and White House should disclose immediately all correspondence related to the Comey firing.
Third, Attorney General Jeff Sessions must be removed from office immediately. He violated his pledge to recuse himself from matters related to the Russia investigation.
That’s only the start. The investigations might well lead us into graver territory.
It is utterly implausible that Trump fired Comey over misconduct that aided the Trump campaign and arguably swung the election.
There is a very good case that Comey should have been fired for that misconduct – there’s just zero reason to believe that’s why Trump acted. This justification gives pretext a bad name.
It also is incredibly difficult to imagine that the Comey firing was not connected to the Russia investigation.
At Public Citizen, we’ve remained agnostic over what role Russia had in the 2016 election, and particularly whether and how Russia may have coordinated with the Trump campaign. The allegations are serious and need independent investigation, but we have not presumed and still do not presume to know what such an investigation will find.
This is a test for America.