How Republicans are reacting to Trump's firing of Comey

Story highlights

  • Republicans are weighing in the immediate aftermath of James Comey's firing
  • Some GOP lawmakers are backing the President's decision; others are not

Washington (CNN)President Donald Trump's sudden decision Tuesday to fire FBI Director James Comey has forced GOP lawmakers to decide whether to side with the White House on a move that comes in the middle of the FBI's investigation into Russia's meddling in the 2016 presidential election.

Here's how Republican lawmakers have reacted:
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: "Our Democratic colleagues (are) complaining about the removal of an FBI director whom they themselves repeatedly and sharply criticized. ... Partisan calls should not delay the considerable work of Chairman (Richard) Burr and Vice Chairman (Mark) Warner. Too much is at stake."
House Speaker Paul Ryan, in an interview on Fox News: "I think the truth is, James Comey, who is a worthwhile and dedicated public servant, I think he had just basically lost the confidence of a lot of Republicans and a lot of Democrats based upon his conduct, his actions and some of the comments that he had made, and most importantly, he lost the confidence of the President. ... I do think that Director Comey was compromised."
Senate Intelligence Chairman Richard Burr of North Carolina, in a statement: "I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey's termination. I have found Director Comey to be a public servant of the highest order, and his dismissal further confuses an already difficult investigation by the committee. In my interactions with the director and with the bureau under his leadership, he and the FBI have always been straightforward with our Committee. Director Comey has been more forthcoming with information than any FBI director I can recall in my tenure on the congressional intelligence committees. His dismissal, I believe, is a loss for the bureau and the nation."
Sen. John McCain of Arizona to reporters: "There will be more shoes to drop. There always are on these scandals."
Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska in a statement: "Regardless of how you think Director Comey handled the unprecedented complexities of the 2016 election cycle, the timing of this firing is very troubling. Jim Comey is an honorable public servant, and in the midst of a crisis of public trust that goes well beyond who you voted for in the presidential election, the loss of an honorable public servant is a loss for the nation. As the chairman of the Judiciary committee's oversight subcommittee, I have reached out to the deputy attorney general for clarity on his rationale for recommending this action."
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida to reporters: "I would expect the FBI to continue to function along the lines that we have come to expect it to function."
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on CNN's "New Day": "I think Director Comey is a fine man, but Democrats called for his removal about two to three, four weeks ago and now he's gone and we get a chance to pick on a new director that hopefully we can all agree is above reproach."
Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona to reporters: "I just don't know why this happened now. I'm having trouble with it still. With regard to a special prosecutor, I'm looking to see how that would impact the Senate investigation that's going on. I have confidence in the Senate Intelligence Committee investigation, so still reviewing."
Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio in a statement: "Given the timing and circumstances of the decision, I believe the White House should provide a fuller explanation regarding the President's rationale. The American people must have faith in a strong, independent FBI. I'm concerned about eroding trust in this premier law enforcement agency."
Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky on Fox News: "All they continue to ask for is more power to invade our phone calls and more power to invade our privacy. I was not a huge Comey fan."
Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska in a statement: "Whether or not you are a supporter of Mr. James Comey's actions as FBI director, the timing of his firing -- in the middle of an investigation into Russia's interference in our election -- is serious cause for concern."
Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee in a statement: "It would have been easier to explain if the President had fired the FBI director earlier when Senator Schumer and other Democrats said they'd lost confidence in Mr. Comey."
Sen. John Thune of South Dakota on CNN: "The timing of all of this is something the administration will have to answer questions about."
Sen. Susan Collins of Maine in a statement: "Today's announcement is likely the inevitable conclusion of Director Comey's decision last July to bypass the longstanding protocols of the Justice Department and publicly announce the reasons he had decided not to recommend an indictment of Hillary Clinton and to offer his personal views of Mrs. Clinton's actions.
"That decision, while well-intentioned, embroiled Director Comey into political controversies that unfortunately continued to this day.
"Any suggestion that today's announcement is somehow an effort to stop the FBI's investigation of Russia's attempt to influence the election last fall is misplaced. The President did not fire the entire FBI; he fired the director. I have every confidence that the FBI will continue to pursue its investigation. In addition, I am certain that the Senate Intelligence Committee, on which I serve, will continue its own bipartisan investigation and will follow the evidence wherever it leads."
House Judiciary Chairman Bob Goodlatte of Virginia: "The FBI is the premier law enforcement agency in the world and it is critical to have a director who holds the trust of the American people. It is clearly the President's prerogative to remove the FBI director, as was recommended by the top two officials at the Department of Justice."
Rep. Rod Blum of Iowa, at a town hall meeting: "I think it's probably time for Comey to go. The FBI has been way too involved in politics -- both sides of the aisle. Been too politicized. And the president has every authority under the constitution to terminate the director of the FBI. So, I'm supportive of that decision."
Rep. Justin Amash of Michigan in a tweet: "My staff and I are reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia. The second paragraph of this letter is bizarre."
Rep. Barbara Comstock of Virginia: "Both Democrats and Republicans attacked the FBI Director at various times for various reasons and called for his ouster. However, I can't defend or explain tonight's actions or timing of the firing of FBI Director James Comey. The FBI investigation into the Russian impact on the 2016 election must continue. There must be an independent investigation that the American people can trust."
Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Florida in a statement: "Today's extraordinary decision raises many questions all of which must be answered. Congress and the American people need a transparent explanation as to how this decision was reached and why it was executed at this time. It is critical that the FBI can continue all of its pending work with independence and integrity -- especially the investigation into the Russian government's efforts to influence our last election and undermine American democracy. Today I reiterate the need for Congress to establish a select committee with full investigatory powers to thoroughly examine this matter."