Democratic members of Congress sounded off on Tuesday after President Donald Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey for what the White House said was his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails.
Because the FBI was also investigating possible ties between President Donald Trump and Russia, the Democrats questioned the state of the probe and made impassioned calls to have a special prosecutor on the case.
"This investigation must be run as far away as possible" from the president, said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York, who called on the deputy attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor.
Schumer, according to NBC News, even called on all Senate Democrats to "be on the floor in their seats" at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday to hear how, if at all, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will address Comey's firing. A special caucus meeting will then take place at 10:30 a.m. to discuss the next steps.
Sen. Tim Kaine, Hillary Clinton's running mate during the 2016 election, was not shy about giving his thoughts on the Russia investigation.
"Comey firing recommended by Sessions," Kaine tweeted. "I thought he had recused himself from Russia investigation! Trump firing Comey shows how frightened the Admin is over Russia investigation."
Kaine is close to the situation, as Comey had written to Congress about one week before the presidential election that the FBI had reopened Clinton's email case. Clinton recently said that Comey's very public decision is one of the reasons she — and, therefore, Kaine — lost the election.
Senators Elizabeth Warren and Edward Markey, both of Massachusetts, also called for the appointment of an independent prosecutor to investigate possible ties between Trump and Russia.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut agreed with Warren and Markey, tweeting that the firing of Comey "compromises investigation of White House ties to Russians – no doubt now special prosecutor is necessary."
Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said the firing "raises the critical question as to whether the FBI investigation of Russian interference in the last presidential campaign will continue and as to whether the investigation of any collusion or involvement by the Trump campaign will also be investigated by the FBI. Any attempt to stop or undermine this FBI investigation would raise grave constitutional issues."
He continued, "Under these circumstances, I renew my call for an independent counsel and a special commission to fully investigate the Russian interference. We await clarification by the White House as soon as possible as to whether this investigation will continue and whether it will have a credible leader so that we know it will have a just outcome.”
Eric Holder, a Democrat who served as attorney general under Barack Obama and as deputy attorney general under Bill Clinton, also weighed in.
"To the career men and women at DOJ/FBI: you know what the job entails and how to do it. Be strong and unafraid. Duty. Honor. Country," he tweeted late Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont said Trump's firing of Comey is "nothing less than Nixonian."
Leahy called Trump's justification for the firing — that Comey had treated Hillary Clinton unfairly in his investigation of her use of a private email server — "absurd."
"The President, in fact, celebrated the Director’s egregious mistakes in that investigation. That fig leaf explanation seeks to cover the undeniable truth: The President has removed the sitting FBI Director in the midst of one of the most critical national security investigations in the history of our country — one that implicates senior officials in the Trump campaign and administration," Leahy said.
He added that "this cascading situation demands the prompt appointment of an independent Special Counsel to pick up the pieces of these investigations."
Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio tweeted, "Now more than ever, we need an independent investigation into Russian ties to ensure American people can have full confidence in findings."
Sen. Mark R. Warren of Virginia said "the only way this administration can begin to demonstrate a commitment to the rule of law, which has so far been sorely lacking, is to cooperate fully with the ongoing congressional investigations and to support the appointment of an independent special counsel."
Congressman Alcee L. Hastings of Florida said Comey's firing "cries out for a special prosecutor. Up until the moment of his dismissal, Director Comey was actively investigating President Donald John Trumps’ connection to Russian interference in the 2016 election. The American people deserve to know why Director Comey was fired without reason and Donald Trump needs to explain himself immediately.”
Rep. Frederica S. Wilson of Florida said “this abrupt action raises many serious questions and is further proof that an independent prosecutor should be named to head the Russia investigation – and could make the possibility of such an appointment more likely."
Many other Congress members quickly took to social media to sound off on the dismissal of Comey and the state of the Russia investigation.
Meanwhile, Senate Republicans were divided over Comey's firing, with some supporting the president's decision and others voicing concern.