Sen. Bill Cassidy on Wednesday said President Donald Trump made the right move by firing FBI Director James Comey.
The move has set off a political firestorm, as critics have suggested that the firing of Comey is troubling given the FBI’s investigation into ties between Trump’s presidential campaign and the Russian government. The White House has defended the move as necessary given missteps by the director in the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
Lawmakers from both the Republican and Democratic parties have criticised the decision. Cassidy, the senator from Louisiana, said during an interview with Business Insider that the firing was the correct decision, even if the timing looks bad.
“Obviously the timing looks bad, but I’m not sure there ever is good timing,” Cassidy said on Wednesday. “Mr. Comey had become an issue, criticised both from the right and the left.”
Comey had drawn criticism from Democrats due to his handling of the investigation into Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
“At some point when you’re director — I think he’s a great American by the way, who cares deeply about our country, who’s passionate about our country, who tried to do a good job in an exceptionally tough situation — but when the director himself becomes the issue, that is probably a distraction from the mission of the institution,” Cassidy said.
Democrats have called in near unison for an independent prosecutor to be appointed to oversee the Russia investigation, given concerns about the aims of a Trump-appointed FBI director. Cassidy pushed back on the suggestion, saying the Senate Intelligence Committee could handle the matter, echoing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s comments on Wednesday.
“That’s absurd,” Cassidy said. “One, the bipartisan Senate Intelligence Committee is doing a great job, no one has criticised the work they have had. Secondly, Comey had just testified saying there had been no evidence of everything that people are alleging.”
Comey did not provide evidence of wrongdoing during recent congressional testimony, but he declined to answer many specifics about the investigation because of its ongoing, sensitive nature.
Cassidy also told Business Insider that removing Comey wouldn’t halt the confirmed FBI investigation into the Russian ties, because Comey himself was probably not heavily involved in its day-to-day operations.
“Thirdly, the idea that Comey goes away and, if there is an investigation, the investigation goes away? Comey’s first meeting of the day is about his budget, the second meeting is with his [human resources] department, the third meeting is, you know, fill in the blank. Then he’s got a chief lieutenant who’s doing everything, who is is the point. And then on Friday afternoon, that’s when Comey gets his briefing from that chief lieutenant. That chief lieutenant is stil there, that chief lieutenant will still be driving that investigation.”
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