House GOP Leadership Mum on Comey Firing

Republican members offer tepid response to Trump firing FBI director

Former FBI Director James Comey was fired by President Donald Trump Tuesday over his handling of the Hillary Clinton investigation. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

House Republican leadership has so far kept quiet about President Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.

A spokeswoman for Speaker Paul D. Ryan said he is expected to address Comey’s firing during an evening appearance on Fox News and that no statements were expected before that.

As of early Wednesday afteroon, House GOP aides to Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Majority Whip Steve Scalise and Conference Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers did not respond to inquiries about whether their bosses plan to weigh in.

[Timeline: Comey’s Journey from Clinton Investigation to Unemployment]

Other GOP House members did talk about the Comey controversy.

Rep. Trey Gowdy, a member of the House Intelligence Committee who is now one of three members leading the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, called Comey’s job “very difficult.”

“I had my differences with him on some matters but never lost sight of the fact that he had a very difficult job and undoubtedly had access to facts that perhaps the rest of us did not,” Gowdy said in a statement. 

[Town Hall Outrage Turns From Health Care to Comey Firing]

Rep. John Faso called Comey’s firing both “unsurprising and shocking.” The New York Republican also joined House and Senate Democrats and Republicans in calling for an independent investigation depending on who Trump opts to nominate.

“It is incumbent upon the administration to nominate a new FBI director who will be someone of unquestioned integrity and experience, acceptable to both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate, to lead this critical agency on the Russian investigation and all other matters coming before it,” Faso said in a statement. 

Comey irked both Republicans and Democrats on a host of political hot potatoes. He faced backlash from Republicans when he recommended Hillary Clinton not be prosecuted for mishandling emails containing classified information while she served as secretary of State.

Then, just 11 days before the November presidential election, he told Congress the FBI received additional information that may be related to that investigation — a move Clinton said cost her the presidency and one Republicans hailed.

In March, Comey acknowledged for the first time before a House Intelligence Committee that the FBI was also investigating members of the Trump administration and the Russian government.

However, in his letter to Comey, Trump wrote the former FBI director had told him the president himself was not part of the probe.

“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau,” Trump wrote.

Republican Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, called this part of Trump’s letter “bizarre,” tweeting Tuesday night that he and his staff were looking to establish an independent commission on the Russia investigation.

Administration officials cited Comey’s handling of Clinton’s emails as the reasoning behind the termination.

Members who held town hall events in their district shortly after Comey’s dismissal was made public Tuesday night saw constituents switch their focus from a health care bill House Republicans narrowly passed to the future of the FBI and the Russia investigation.

Iowa Republican Rep. Rod Blum walked out of a town hall meeting in Cedar Rapids after boos and people yelling “do your job” in response to Comey’s firing.

“I think it was probably time for Comey to go,” Blum said. “The FBI has been way too involved in politics on both sides of the aisle.” Others offered slight praise of Comey.

“I do think he was an honorable man and ran an amazing department,” Republican Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen said at a town hall in New Jersey. “I’m surprised that he’s gone but I guess in this business, nothing is too surprising.”


Contact Rahman at remarahman@cqrollcall.com or follow her on Twitter at @remawriter

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