Members of Arkansas's congressional delegation, all Republicans, are responding to the unexpected firing of FBI Director James Comey by President Donald Trump. By mid-afternoon Wednesday, three of the six had released written statements while a spokesman for another offered a brief response. But the chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas called the situation a "constitutional crisis" and said the delegation should demand an independent investigation.
Sen. John Boozman:
The work undertaken on a daily basis by the men and women of the FBI is vital to the safety and security of our nation. I am grateful for James Comey’s integrity and service during his tenure as the bureau’s director, despite being placed in some very difficult situations over the past year. The Russian investigations will continue. I have full confidence in my colleagues and the professional staff leading the investigation by the Senate Intelligence Committee. Americans deserve a full explanation as to the circumstances of the decision to immediately remove Mr. Comey from his post. Our country has lost faith in many of our institutions and a better public accounting of this situation, along with a thorough and fair confirmation process for the next FBI Director, can help restore some of that broken trust.
Sen. Tom Cotton:
The FBI Director reports directly to the Deputy Attorney General and it’s clear from Rod Rosenstein’s letter that he had lost confidence in Directory (SIC) Comey. It’s hard to stay on the job under those circumstances. I expect the Deputy Attorney General to testify to Congress to explain more of his reasoning and the timing, but the most important thing now is that the President nominate a new director of unimpeachable integrity and unquestioned independence to lead the FBI.
2nd district Representative French Hill:
I am carefully reviewing the background and rationale for the Director’s dismissal last night by President Trump. The firing of an FBI Director is a reasonable cause for concern for the American people who deserve an FBI that is immune to any political influence. Due to the delicate nature of this important situation, I do not feel it is appropriate for me to deliver an opinion on the matter without having received all of the facts. Having said that, the president needs to quickly appoint someone to the job who not only he feels confident can fairly uphold the law, but the American people can feel confident in as well. I also support the continued FBI investigation into potential Russian interference in the 2016 election, and the House and Senate Intelligence Committee's investigations must continue unimpeded by this decision.
A spokesman for 3rd district Representative Steve Womack, Beau Walker, released this statement:
Congressman Womack understands the timing of Director Comey’s dismissal is concerning to some. Ultimately, executive branch officials serve at the will of the president.
1st district Representative Rick Crawford and 4th district Representative Bruce Westerman did not respond to requests for comment or issue statements.
But Michael John Gray, chairman of the Democratic Party of Arkansas and a state representative from Augusta, criticized the state's congressional delegation "for their collective inaction" to what he says is a "Constitutional crisis."
I am calling on our congressional delegation to demand that an independent counsel be appointed to oversee the investigation. This is about protecting the integrity of the United States Constitution. This is not partisan and it is not complicated. Our President has created a constitutional crisis and the clearest path toward unwinding this crisis is to appoint an independent investigator.
It is shameful that not one of our elected officials in Arkansas has expressed any concern that President Trump has stolen a page from Richard Nixon’s playbook. To fire a guy who is investigating your administration, it does not pass the smell test. Arkansans deserve better from the people we send to Washington. No one is above the truth, not even our President – and Americans deserve the truth.
Conner Eldridge, former U.S. Prosecuting Attorney for the Western District of Arkansas and a Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2016, told Talk Business & Politics that Comey was wrong to talk about an ongoing investigation, but called his sudden firing is troubling.
"While Comey was wrong to comment on a pending investigation last year, his firing raises serious questions that demand answers. Did Trump really fire Comey for mishandling the Clinton case? That makes no sense because Trump repeatedly praised Comey’s actions. So why was Comey fired and, more importantly, who is going to ensure an impartial investigation of all issues concerning Russian interference in the election? The solution is a special prosecutor and one should be appointed immediately," Eldridge said in a statement.