Minnesota lawmakers question the timing of Comey's firing

"We are witnessing a Constitutional crisis," said Rep. Keith Ellison.
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Some of Minnesota's lawmakers have weighed in on President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Comey was a target of attacks from Democrats over his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's email server last year. His public profile during that probe was cited as a reason the deputy attorney general recommended Comey be fired.

But the timing of Trump's move prompted Democrats and at least one Minnesota Republican to bring up the FBI's investigation into links between Trump's campaign and Russia during the 2016 election.

On Wednesday, the New York Times reported Comey's firing came three days after he asked the Department of Justice for more resources to expand the Russia enquiry. The Department of Justice has denied this.

Democrats pounce

Rep. Keith Ellison, who also serves as deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee, said in a statement the U.S. is "witnessing a Constitutional crisis unfold before our very eyes."

He argued the next FBI director "will not have the independence or confidence of the American people to continue this investigation," and called for a special prosecutor to follow through on the probe.

Rep. Betty McCollum described the firing as "a transparent attempt to obstruct justice," saying nobody appointed by Trump or Sessions can be trusted to investigate the Trump administration, or hold it accountable.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar gave little credence to the reasons given for Comey's dismissal.

"Really? Firing Jim Comey smack in the middle of a major Russia investigation is very suspect," she tweeted, later noting Comey was supposed to be in front of a Senate intelligence committee this week. Like Ellison, she called for a special prosecutor.

She was backed up by her fellow senator Al Franken, who said the President's reasons for firing Comey "are difficult to believe."

He added that he's "deeply troubled" that Attorney General Jeff Sessions was involved in Comey's firing, considering Sessions recused himself from the Russian investigation because of his own links to the country.

GOP Rep. Paulsen also has questions

Rep, Erik Paulsen, one of Minnesota's three GOP congresspeople, said in an email statement that public trust in the integrity of America's institutions is "of the utmost importance."

"For 10 months, the FBI has been investigating Russian interference in the 2016 election. The extraordinary decision to fire Director Comey definitely raises questions which must be answered," Paulsen said. He then called for an independent investigation.

Neither of Minnesota's two other Republican congressmen (Reps. Tom Emmer and Jason Lewis) have posted anything online about the Comey firing. We've reached out to their offices for a comment.

What have Democrats said about Comey previously?

President Trump has been among the Republicans accusing Democrats of hypocrisy for complaining about Comey's firing, given how many were critical of the FBI director for his discussion of Hillary Clinton's emails in the final days of the presidential campaign.

Many of the statements from the Democrats above appear to be criticizing the timing of Comey's firing, rather than defending his record as director. But let's look at what they previously said.

Franken was critical of Comey in the past. In the days before Trump's election win, he told CNN he thought the Senate Judiciary Committee should look into Comey's conduct during the election, and expressed concern about FBI leaks regarding the Clinton case.

Ellison meanwhile said Comey "did not help" Clinton in the election and that his proclamations about the emails investigation "changed the conversation."

And you might have noticed Klobuchar referring to Comey as "Jim" in her tweet above. That could stem from the days they were classmates in law school. When Comey was appointed FBI director, Klobuchar described him as "a man of principle and integrity with a deep understanding of the law."

Just before the election, Klobuchar refused to join the handful of Democrat politicians who were calling on Comey to step down, telling Bloomberg: "I don't think anybody should be talking about anybody resigning at this point."

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