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Illinois Lawmakers Sound Off On Comey Dismissal 'Straight Out Of Nixon Playbook'

By aaroncynic in News on May 10, 2017 4:50PM

former FBI director James Comey, via Getty Images

In a move that would presumably make the ghost of Richard Nixon shake his jowls from the grave with jealousy, President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey Tuesday, whose charge at the time was investigating allegations of Russian tampering with the 2016 election.

“He wasn’t doing a good job,” Trump told reporters Wednesday morning. “Very simply. He was not doing a good job.” Predictably, the President also took to Twitter, saying that everyone would thank him:

The dismissal came as a shock to lawmakers, the country and even Comey himself, who found out from television while he was speaking with FBI employees in Los Angeles. Despite the brazen nature of Comey’s firing however, it seems to fall in line with the President’s known dislike for basic checks and balances within government. Former President Richard Nixon wasn’t exactly a fan of them either, famously firing the special prosecutor appointed to investigate his conduct in the watergate scandal.

Lawmakers in Illinois were quick to weigh-in and condemn the move. Senator Dick Durbin said Comey’s termination “raises questions” as to whether the FBI investigation will continue, or whether collusion by the Trump campaign with Russian will be investigated.

“Any attempt to stop or undermine this FBI investigation would raise grave constitutional issues,” Durbin said in a statement. “Under these circumstances, I renew my call for an independent counsel and a special commission to fully investigate the Russian interference.

Senator Tammy Duckworth also made a call for an independent investigation and asked why Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who Trump said made the recommendation to ouster Comey, was involved with the decision given his own recusal in all investigations related to Russia.

“The President’s actions transcend any one individual and raise significant concerns over the basic rule of law, especially if they are intended to dissuade criminal investigators from digging too deep into Trump Administration officials and associates - or even the President himself,” said Duckworth in a statement emailed to Chicagoist.

Like many, Congressman Mike Quigley, who sits on the House Intelligence Committee, saw the similarities between Trump and the 37th president, saying his actions were a "brazen decision taken straight out of the Nixon playbook."

In a statement published by the Tribune, Quigley said that Trump "added to his long record of disruption and distraction by attempting to hand-select the individual that leads the (FBI) investigation into his own administration.”

Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky called Comey’s dismissal another high-profile example of a pattern within the Trump administration.

“Earlier in the week we heard former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates tell the United States Senate, under oath, that the Trump Administration actively and willfully ignored her warnings about their own National Security Advisor being vulnerable to blackmail by the Russian government,” said Schakowsky. “With U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, Sally Yates, and now James Comey, we have three high-profile examples of the Trump Administration firing the individuals investigating them.”

At least one Illinois lawmaker appeared to come up with some sort of defense for Comey’s dismissal, though without mentioning Trump’s name.

“Director Comey had become a lightning rod for criticism over the past few months,” Rep Peter Roskam told NBC5. “Republicans and especially Democrats had sadly lost confidence in his ability to lead the FBI. I was surprised by the timing of the announcement. The FBI Director must enjoy the full confidence of the American people to effectively administer justice.”

Updated: U.S. Rep. Luis Gutierrez also sounded off on the firing, via Twitter Wednesday morning: