Senators got little warning on Tuesday evening that President Donald Trump was preparing to fire FBI Director James B. Comey.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., received a call minutes before the announcement, an aide told Roll Call. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, received a bit more of a notice.
“President Trump called me at 5:30 p.m. and indicated he would be removing Director Comey, saying the FBI needed a change. The next FBI director must be strong and independent and will receive a fair hearing in the Judiciary Committee,” Feinstein said in a statement.
In a statement, Graham thanked Comey for his service and called it a “difficult decision for all concerned.”
“Given the recent controversies surrounding the director, I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well. I encourage the President to select the most qualified professional available who will serve our nation’s interests,” he said.
The White House said Trump made the decision to fire Comey based on the recommendations of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
“The FBI is one of our Nation’s most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement,” Trump said in a statement.