Updated on May 10 at 12:06 p.m.
Stunned members of Connecticut’s congressional delegation joined demands for a special prosecutor to oversee the investigation of Russian influence on the 2016 election after President Donald Trump fired James Comey as FBI director Tuesday.
“The need for a special prosecutor is now crystal clear,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee who has called for a special prosecutor in the past. “President Trump has catastrophically compromised the FBI’s ongoing investigation of his own White House’s ties to Russia.”
In describing the gravity of Trump’s action, Blumenthal conjured memories of President Richard Nixon’s firing of Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.
“Not since Watergate have our legal systems been so threatened, and our faith in the independence and integrity of those systems so shaken,” Blumenthal said.
Trump offered a brief explanation for his decision Wednesday in the Oval Office.
“He wasn’t doing a good job,” Trump said. “Very simply. He was not doing a good job.”
Rep. Jim Himes, D-4th District, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, which is conducting its own investigation into possible ties with Russia, said Tuesday, “The White House cited Director Comey’s handling of the investigation into Secretary Clinton’s emails as the reason for the firing, but many will be rightly skeptical of that explanation.”
“Whatever the merits of Director Comey’s decisions, the investigated has just fired the investigator,” Himes said. “That should never have occurred prior to the full and complete insulation of the FBI’s investigation through the appointment of an independent prosecutor and other measures.”
“I will do everything in my power to ensure that this irresponsible move doesn’t end the necessary work law enforcement is conducting to discover the truth about Russia, its interference in our democracy and any and all who might be complicit,” Himes said.
Sen. Chris Murphy joined Blumenthal in calling for a special prosecutor Wednesday morning.
“No matter the mistakes that Director Comey has made, the timing of his firing clearly suggests that President Trump is trying to influence or upend the FBI’s investigation into his campaign’s possible collusion with a foreign government,” Murphy said Wednesday morning.
“The president’s continued refusal to support the appointment of a special prosecutor would confirm America’s worst fears about the motivation for Comey’s firing,” Murphy added.
U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, said the firing of Comey while he was “spearheading” the Russia investigation “does not pass the smell test.”
“It is painfully clear that we need an immediate and independent investigation of all aspects relating to Russia’s meddling in our election. We need a review that the American people can have faith in,” Courtney said.
Courtney said the fact that Trump’s action was recommended by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, whom he called “a political appointee who barely survived confirmation in the Senate,” raised more doubt about the motives behind the firing.
Rep. Elizabeth Esty, D-5th District, said the White House has shown a “corrosive pattern of disinformation and obstruction” over the last four months, which has “impeded the public’s ability to determine the full truth” about possible Russian interference.
“The only solution that will restore public trust is for Congress to appoint a special prosecutor to conduct an independent investigation,” Esty said Wednesday morning.
Rep. John Larson, D-1st District, said demanding an independent investigation should not be a partisan issue.
“The firing of FBI Director James Comey should renew every American and every member of Congress’s call for an independent investigation into Russian involvement,” Larson said.
Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-3rd District, said the White House must provide “an urgent and thorough explanation” for its decision, given the ongoing FBI investigation into Russian interference.
“These events further underscore why I have continued to demand an independent commission with subpoena power in order to get to the bottom of the Russia investigation,” DeLauro said Wednesday morning.