Saturday morning San Diego Congressman Scott Peters tweeted that while at the grocery store he received one “hello” from a constituent followed by two “are you going to appoint a special prosecutor?” questions.
Calls from Democrats and constituents across the country for a special prosecutor in the investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia have only ratcheted up since President Trump’s abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey Tuesday.
Although the official word coming out the White House Tuesday and Wednesday was that Comey had been fired because of the way he’d handled Hillary Clinton’s email investigation, Trump himself contradicted that in a Thursday interview with Lester Holt, saying he felt the “Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story.”
Trump also contradicted the official letters sent about Comey's firing that said the president dismissed the director at the recommendation of the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General. During the interview Trump said firing Comey was his idea and he would have let Comey go regardless of what anyone else said.
Trump's statements further muddied what some of his aides had told reporters Tuesday and Wednesday. Press Secretary Sean Spicer said Tuesday, "It was all him," referring to Rosenstein, who was appointed just two weeks ago. "That was a DOJ decision." In an interview with CNN's Anderson Cooper, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway referred Cooper to the three letters sent out after Comey's firing. "Today's actions had zero to do with [the investigation]," Conway told Cooper. "And today’s actions have everything to do with what Mr. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general [recommended.]" Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders reiterated the same thing Wednesday.
Calls for a special prosecutor in the investigation have been swift.
Congressman Peters called the firing something that would happen in a “dictatorship.”
"Never before has it been clearer that the integrity of our democracy depends on an independent commission to investigate Russian interference in our election and a special prosecutor at the Department of Justice to follow an investigation to wherever and whomever it leads,” he said in a statement. “Anyone who stands in the way of an independent investigation denies the American people the answers they deserve."
Senator Diane Feinstein, ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, called for judiciary committee hearings on Comey’s firing.
“President Trump and the White House have presented an ever-changing narrative on the rationale for the firing of FBI Director Comey. This triggers a need for the Judiciary Committee to hold hearings and get to the bottom of this,” she said in a statement.
In reference to a January dinner between the president and Comey that the president discussed in the Holt interview, Feinstein said Trump’s reported request of a loyalty pledge from the director was inappropriate.
“The FBI Director is expected to be independent,” she stated. “He is expected to be loyal to the Constitution and rule of law—not the president. If the president thinks he can control the FBI—the decisions it makes and the investigations it pursues—there are legal as well as constitutional concerns.”
Trump denies the reports that he asked Comey to pledge his loyalty.
Feinstein also said she supports asking Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who would make the decision because of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ recusal on Russia-related matters, to resign if he does not appoint a special counsel.
“These investigations are far too important to risk disruption, delay or interference,” she added.
Senator Kamala Harris, who agrees a special prosecutor is needed, also said she is calling for Attorney General Jeff Sessions to resign because of his involvement in Comey’s firing after his recusal.
She also said she and her Senate colleagues have sent a letter to the DOJ Inspector General Michael Horowitz, urging him to investigate political interference in the Russia investigation.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra also said it’s necessary to have an independent investigation. “We must ensure the integrity of our democracy. Why is the Trump administration afraid of this investigation? The American people deserve answers,” Becerra stated.
Congresswoman Susan Davis also said an independent investigation is necessary.
Congressman Juan Vargas agrees. “The firing of FBI Director James Comey has raised many red flags,” he said in a statement. “It is clear that now, more than ever, we need an independent, bipartisan commission to help us get to the bottom of the Trump/Russia investigation. The American people deserve to know the truth, for the sake of our country and our democracy.”
Congressman Darrell Issa told NBC 7 that he supports the president’s decision to fire the director, and points to the fact that Comey is not the first FBI director to be fired. President Clinton fired William Sessions in 1993 after an investigation showed ethics violations that included evading taxes.
“People in both parties called for director Comey to be fired,” Issa said. He explained that he was disappointed in the director’s handling of both Hillary Clinton’s email investigation and in pressuring Apple to create a “backdoor” to obtain information locked inside iPhones relating to the phone belonging to the 2015 San Bernardino shooter.
“So I lost confidence in him back then, I felt that he was grandstanding,” he added … So I don’t think you look at it as any one thing. I think you see over time a loss of confidence by both Democrats and Republicans and these are all in the public record."