FBI Director Comey thought his dismissal was ‘prank’ when news broke on TV
James Comey learned about his firing as director of the FBI through a news report on Television while he was giving a speech and thought it was a joke, bureau staffers said.
Comey was addressing his FBI team in Los Angeles on Tuesday when he saw the news on televisions in the room. He laughed after he saw the news, but he “stepped into a side office, where he confirmed that he had been fired.”
“No one should find out via the television that they’ve been fired. If true, that’s poor form and plain unprofessional,” Rep. Carlos Curbelo, Republican from Florida, said in a tweet.
President Donald Trump fired Comey, amid probes of potential contacts between his presidential campaign and Russian officials prior to the 2016 election.
In a letter to Comey, the US president said, “It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission.”
The move by Trump provoked backlash from several lawmakers, who questioned the timing of Comey’s removal as the FBI is investigating Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election, including any possible links between the Trump campaign and Moscow.
“Any attempt to stop or undermine this FBI investigation would raise grave constitutional issues,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin, Democrat of Illinois.
Comey “should be immediately called to testify in an open hearing about the status of Russia-Trump investigation at the time he was fired,” said Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of Oregon and a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, in a post on Twitter.
Also, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said this could make Americans suspect a cover-up.
Even many Republicans criticized Trump for making a rash decision, arguing it could have deep implications for their party.
“I’ve spent the last several hours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of Comey’s firing,” Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona, said on Twitter. “I just can’t do it.”
Also, Representative Justin Amash, Republican of Michigan, said that he supports an independent commission to investigate the possible Russia’s role in the election.