Politics

In the wake of President Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says a special prosecutor is not needed to investigate Russia’s interference in last year’s presidential election.

Democrats — including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York and Congressman John Yarmuth of Kentucky — ramped up calls for an independent investigation into Russia’s meddling after Comey’s abrupt removal.

On the Senate Floor, McConnell dismissed the requests.

“Today we’ll no doubt hear calls for a new investigation, which could only serve to impede the current work being done,” McConnell said.

Trump fired Comey on Tuesday saying it was necessary for a “new beginning” at the FBI. In a letter explaining his actions, Trump cited Comey’s handling of the investigation into former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails.

Comey announced two weeks before last year’s presidential election that the FBI had reopened an investigation into Clinton’s alleged mishandling of classified information by storing emails on a private server.

Many Democrats criticized Comey for the notices, which Clinton herself recently said contributed to her electoral loss.

On Tuesday, McConnell accused Democrats of being hypocritical.

“Our Democratic colleagues [are] complaining about the removal of an FBI director whom they themselves repeatedly and sharply criticized,” McConnell said.

Kentucky Reps Fall in Line

So far, Kentucky’s Republican delegation in Congress has fallen in line behind Trump’s decision to fire Comey.

During an appearance on Fox Business, Sen. Rand Paul agreed with Trump’s actions, saying Comey had lost support from both major parties in Washington.

“I think you have a lot of people looking at it from the Democrat side who have said they have lost confidence in him,” Paul said. “I think you have Republicans saying he should’ve prosecuted Clinton. Nobody’s happy with his tenure at the FBI so I think it was long past time for him to go.”

Comey had more than six years left in his 10-year term. He was appointed to his position in 2013 by President Barack Obama.

Comey is only the second FBI director to be fired — the first being President Bill Clinton’s firing of William Sessions in 1993 after alleged improper use of FBI resources.

U.S. Rep. Thomas Massie, a Republican representing northern and northeastern Kentucky said Trump was within his authority to fire Comey.

“I suspect Hillary Clinton would have done it sooner had she won the election, since Director Comey had lost the ability to conduct the business of the FBI with the confidence of the American people,” Massie said in a statement.

Congressman James Comer, who represents western and southern parts of the state, also threw his support behind Trump’s actions. Comer said he understands “concerns many have expressed about the timing” of the former director’s dismissal, adding that Comey has had critics on both sides of the aisle.

“It is important to remember that Congressional investigations, as well as the FBI investigation, into Russian meddling in our elections will continue,” Comer said in a statement. “As we move forward, I call on President Trump to nominate a highly qualified, respected, non-partisan individual to lead the FBI.”

Kentucky Republican Congressmen Andy Barr, Brett Guthrie and Hal Rogers have not responded to requests for comment.

U.S. Rep. John Yarmuth, Kentucky’s lone Congressional Democrat, took to Facebook Monday evening to criticize Trump’s actions.

“‪President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey is yet another reminder of the absolutely dire need for an independent special prosecutor to investigate Russia,” Yarmuth wrote.

Hours before Comey’s firing, the FBI corrected testimony Comey provided last week dealing with how some of Hillary Clinton’s emails had ended up on the laptop of former congressman Anthony Weiner.

The FBI also has an ongoing investigation into Trump’s former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s financial ties to Russia.

On Tuesday, CNN reported that a grand jury issued subpoenas for records related to Flynn last week.

This story has been updated.

Ryland Barton is the Capitol bureau chief for Kentucky Public Radio.