Updated on May 9, 2017 at 8:44 p.m.
Democrats are calling for an independent investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election following the news that President Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey. The White House announced Comey’s dismissal on Tuesday evening.
So far, reaction in Congress to Comey’s removal has split along partisan lines. Some high-ranking Republican lawmakers appeared supportive of the president’s decision to dismiss the head of the nation’s top law enforcement agency, which has been investigating potential connections between the Trump campaign and alleged Russian interference in the 2016 election. A number of Democrats, on the other hand, expressed shock and outrage over the dismissal, renewing calls for an independent investigation into the matter.
Comey’s exit raises questions about the future of the FBI’s politically charged investigation into the 2016 election, since Trump has the power to nominate the director’s replacement, and thus the official charged with overseeing that inquiry.
In a letter sent to Comey on Tuesday, Trump stated that the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General recommended his dismissal, and that he concurred with the “judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.” A separate letter from the deputy Attorney General suggested that the FBI director had improperly handled the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server. Two additional inquiries from the House and Senate into Russian involvement in the 2016 campaign have both, to varying degrees, been hampered by partisan disagreement.