NJ Democrats Troubled by Comey Firing

Comey was fired on Tuesday. Win McNamee/Getty Images

President Trump and the White House have said that FBI Director James Comey’s firing on Tuesday was unrelated to the ongoing investigation of potential links between Trump campaign associates and Russia, but Democratic lawmakers from New Jersey have some doubts.

Some notable Republicans including U.S. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) have spoken up about Comey, who grew up in Allendale. But most New Jersey Republicans have so far kept quiet.

Here is a roundup of reactions so far from New Jersey’s congressional delegation:

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D)

Booker, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, previously had called for an independent prosecutor to handle the investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia rather than have Comey take the lead on the matter. Now that the FBI director has been dismissed, Booker issued a statement saying that the firing should “set off alarm bells.” He doubled down on calls for a special prosecutor after Tuesday’s news broke.

“The Russians undermined our election,” Booker said. “How exactly they were able to do that with so much success is a question we need to answer — to prevent a similar attack in the future and hold those responsible accountable. In order to give the American people full confidence in this investigation, it should be handled by an independent counsel who does not answer to President Trump.”

U.S. Sen Bob Menendez (D)

After the news broke that  Comey had been fired, Menendez took to Twitter. Like Booker, he reemphasized the need for an independent investigation. Menendez was investigated by the Comey-led FBI and faces trial in September on corruption charges stemming from that probe.

Rep. Donald Norcross (D-1)

Norcross posted his thoughts on Comey’s firing on Twitter. He said he would continue calling for an independent investigation.

Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2)

LoBiondo is the only New Jersey Republican to comment publicly on the issue at this point. On Twitter, he wrote that the bipartisan congressional investigation of the House Intelligence Committee will continue looking into the Russia matter. He said he learned of Comey’s firing via media reports, days after meeting with Comey on Thursday for that bipartisan committee.

“Actively seeking additional info on President’s decision before commenting further,” he wrote.

Rep. Frank Pallone (D-6)

Pallone posted the following statement on Facebook after Comey was fired: “The firing of James Comey is the latest, and perhaps most clear, example of the Trump administration’s actions to impede accountability and transparency.‎ We now need not only a fully independent investigation into President Trump’s ties with Russia, but an inquiry into his unprecedented decision to replace the director of the FBI. My fear is that the Trump administration is trying to prevent Director Comey from revealing its involvement with Russia and other improprieties.”

Rep. Albio Sires (D-8)

Sires called the fact that Comey’s firing coincided with a federal investigation into Trump and Russia “troubling.”

“In the 110 days since taking office, the President has fired his Acting Attorney General, National Security Advisor, and FBI Director all under suspicious circumstances that lack proper transparency,” Sires said in a statement. “It is clearer than ever that the American people deserve to have a special prosecutor and independent commission investigate President Trump’s ties to Russia, his conflicts of interest, and the slew of unanswered questions surrounding his already troubled presidency.”

Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-9)

Pascrell appeared on a Tuesday night episode of CNBC’s Squawk Box to discuss Comey’s firing.

“I think that Comey’s testifying before the committee just a few days ago really set the stage for this,” Pascrell said during the broadcast. “I don’t think this happened overnight. … It seems that there has been an accumulation of things over the last weeks. It seems like they had their minds set on him, getting rid of him. I think this was a decision made weeks ago.”

Rep. Donald Payne Jr. (D-10)

In a statement, Payne drew parallels between Comey’s firing and Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre,” in which the president ordered the firing of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox, leading other officials to resign in protest.

“President Trump is staring scandal in the face,” Payne said. “The Watergate-style firing of James Comey certainly looks like political interference from the Trump administration in an attempt to impede the FBI’s criminal investigation into possible collusion between the president’s campaign associates and Russia. An independent investigation is the necessary path forward.”

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12)

After Comey was fired, Watson Coleman issued a statement questioning who was now in charge of the ongoing investigation. She said she had “zero confidence in the ability of any Trump-appointed FBI director.” Instead, Watson Coleman called for an independent commission.

“It is extremely suspicious and troubling that in the midst of growing questions about the Trump administration’s ties to Russia’s interference into our democracy, Attorney General Sessions, who recused himself, could recommend the dismissal of the person in charge of carrying out that very investigation,” she said.

Like Payne, Watson Coleman alluded to Watergate in her statement. “We know how this ends,” she said.

NJ Democrats Troubled by Comey Firing