Comey Heard the News, Thought It Was a Joke

Democrats call for independent Russia investigation
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 10, 2017 1:56 AM CDT
Updated May 10, 2017 6:21 AM CDT
After Comey Firing, Lawmakers Call for Independent Russia Probe
Then-FBI Director James Comey pauses as he testifies before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last week.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

President Trump's firing of James Comey was so unexpected that the FBI director initially thought it was a joke, sources tell the New York Times. Comey was addressing FBI employees in Los Angeles when news of his firing flashed on a TV screen, insiders say. He said he thought it was a pretty funny prank—but aides then ushered him into another room. Comey, who flew to Washington, DC, Tuesday night instead of attending an FBI recruiting event in Hollywood as scheduled, "was caught flat-footed," a source tells the Los Angeles Times. In other developments:

  • The abrupt firing puts the future of the FBI's investigation of the Trump campaign's alleged links to Russia in doubt, with Democrats calling for a special prosecutor to continue the probe, the Wall Street Journal reports. Most Republicans didn't go that far, though Sen. John McCain called for the creation of a special congressional committee.
  • The BBC looks at the letter from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommending Comey's firing. Rosenstein cites Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, especially his "usurpation" of authority in announcing that the probe would be closed without charges.

  • ABC has Trump's letter firing Comey in full. "While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau," the president writes.
  • Politico spoke to a wide variety of experts about the constitutionality of the move, and received a wide range of answers, with some declaring a constitutional crisis and others saying Trump made a completely correct call. Comey's "mishandling of the Clinton investigation and his usurpation of prosecutorial decisions" would have been enough to get him fired under any administration, according to University of Virginia law professor Saikrishna Prakash.
  • Aaron Blake looks at comments Trump has made about Comey and the Clinton investigation in recent weeks and concludes that the president was looking for an excuse to fire the FBI director. By misstating facts about the Clinton investigation at a Senate hearing, Comey gave Trump the excuse he needed, Blake writes at the Washington Post.
  • The AP looks at key moments leading up to Comey's firing, including his letter to Congress Tuesday correcting earlier testimony.
  • Axios answers seven questions about the firing, including what happens next: Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe will take charge until the Senate confirms a replacement.
  • Democratic Sen. Bob Casey was among those calling the firing "Nixonian," though the Richard Nixon Library begged to differ, reports CNN. Nixon "never fired the director of the FBI," the library tweeted.
(More James Comey stories.)

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