Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threw cold water Wednesday on any calls for a new investigation by a special prosecutor, following President Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, saying “too much is at stake” to halt an investigation already in progress.
The Kentucky Republican said from the Senate floor such an investigation into Russian meddling into the US election last year would “only serve to impede the current work being done to not only discover what the Russians may have done but also to let this body and the national security community develop counter measures.”
McConnell was referencing the Senate intelligence committee investigation led by Republican Sen. Richard Burr of North Carolina and Democratic Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia.
McConnell added, “Partisan calls should not delay the considerable work of Chairman Burr and Vice Chairman Warner. Too much is at stake.”
Senate Democrats, however, continued to hammer Trump’s decision. Many members of the Senate Democratic caucus showed up for McConnell’s opening speech, a rare moment for the US Senate where morning business is typically managed with little fanfare.
“The dismissal of Director Comey establishes a very troubling pattern,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said on the floor. “This administration has now removed several law enforcement officials in a position to conduct independent investigations of the President and his administration.”
Trump fired Comey on Tuesday evening, following recommendations from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Democratic lawmakers have called for a special prosecutor to handle an independent investigation into Russian meddling into the US and whether there are any ties between Trump’s presidential campaign and Moscow.
Schumer called for a closed and, if necessary, classified briefing for all senators with Sessions and Rosenstein, who could be questioned about Comey’s firing.
McConnell said Democrats were “complaining” about Comey’s removal after having alleged during the campaign that Comey had taken unfair actions against their party’s presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton.
The Kentucky Republican said what the Senate had now was “our Democratic colleagues complaining about the removal of an FBI director whom they themselves repeatedly and sharply criticized.”