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Comey's firing could mean another confirmation showdown in the Senate

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President Trump has ousted James Comey for "not doing a good job" as FBI director, but the timing of his firing may trigger another Senate showdown over the confirmation of his replacement. 

Trump has said he will nominate a replacement to lead the FBI "in the coming days" and that nominee will have to go through the same process as Trump's other cabinet nominees to be confirmed. That means a hearing in the judiciary committee and a vote. 

The vote could spell trouble. 

Comey was leading an ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia. Many lawmakers on Tuesday claimed Trump fired the FBI director to stunt that probe, while Trump and other Republicans insist Comey was fired over his mishandling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's emails. 

The questionable timing of Comey's firing has senators on both sides of the aisle calling for some kind of independent investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia. 


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Wednesday rejected calls for a special prosecutor or independent investigation, saying it "could only serve to impede the current work being done," by congressional intelligence committees. 

McConnell may trigger Senate Democrats and some moderate Republicans to use some very powerful leverage to force an independent Russia probe. They could block the confirmation of a new FBI director. 

Comey's firing could mean another confirmation showdown in the Senate

WATCH | Democrats wouldn’t confirm if they are working with moderate Republicans to filibuster the nominee in order to get a prosecutor, but Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) said it would have an impact on the process.


"I think it would be easier to get the next FBI director considered on his or her own merits if a special prosecutor has been appointed," said Cardin, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

"If that hasn’t been appointed that’s going to be the focus of the confirmation hearings and it should be on a broader basis," he added. 

Fellow Maryland Democratic Sen. Chris Van Hollen said his party is "having discussions about all the options available." 

Those options could include working with Republicans who have raised questions about Comey's dismissal to try to hijack the confirmation process for a new FBI director. 

It takes 51 votes in the Senate to confirm a new director. Republicans have 52 seats, so Democrats will need to work across the aisle to block a new nominee. 

They might seek help from Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), who has been calling for the creation of an independent commission on Russia's meddling in the 2016 campaign. 

Other Republican senators who have voiced concern over the firing include John Boozman (AR), Bob Corker (TN), Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and Jeff Flake (AZ).


In a statment on Tuesday, Sen. Boozman said "Americans deserve a full explanation as to the circumstances of the decision to immediately remove Mr. Comey from his post."

But he told me Wednesday that he is fully confident in the Senate Intelligence Committee's investigation and said "what we need to do is confirm a new FBI director that everybody's got confidence in." 

Comey's firing could mean another confirmation showdown in the Senate

But, he added if the Senate felt like there were problems with the committee's investigation, then they could launch an independent probe in the future. 

Sen. Richard Burr (R-NC), who leads the Senate's intelligence committee, rejected calls for a special prosecutor but said he was troubled by the timing of Comey's dismissal.

He and Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), the top Democrat on the intelligence committee, have invited Comey to testify next week before the panel. Comey has not yet accepted.   

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