WASHINGTON (CN) – Former FBI Director James Comey reportedly sought additional money and resources for the agency’s investigation into Russian meddling into the 2016 election just days before President Donald Trump fired him.
Comey’s request was first reported by The New York Times Wednesday. The reporting, based on anonymous sources, said Comey disclosed the request to lawmakers on Capitol Hill, and that he he had made the request to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general.
The Justice Department immediately denied Comey asked for more resources. But the Senate appears intent to get to the bottom of the matter. Comey has been invited to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee next Tuesday.
There is no word yet whether Comey will accept the invitation.
As this aspect of the Comey firing story began to unfold Wednesday morning, President Trump made his first public comments about his firing of FBI Director James Comey.
“He wasn’t doing a good job. Very simply,” Trump said when a White House pool reporter asked why he fired Comey. “He was not doing a good job.”
Asked whether Comey’s firing would affect his meeting with the Russian ambassador scheduled for Wednesday, the president said “Not at all.”
Trump did not respond when asked if the new FBI director will be in charge of the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
During the White House press briefing Wednesday afternoon, spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president was considering letting Comey months ago.
The surprise firing of the FBI director on Tuesday night brought the Senate to a halt Wednesday, as calls grew for special investigations into Russian interference in the election.
While the White House and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said the decision to fire Comey was based on his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while secretary of state, the FBI’s active investigation into the Trump campaign’s interactions with Russia has caused many to question the actual motivations behind the dismissal.
“As I reflect on the decision to dismiss director Comey, I become incredulous thinking about the ongoing FBI investigation into Russia’s interference in our presidential election nad possible connections to associates of the Trump campaign and administration,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said at a Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing on Wednesday.
Feinstein said Trump called her on Tuesday afternoon before announcing Comey’s firing, telling her he was doing so “because the department is a mess.” The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee said she was “surprised and taken aback” by the decision.
Democrats sat in the Senate chamber Wednesday morning as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell gave his typical morning address, hoping to hear his comments on Comey and delaying committee hearings scheduled for this morning. Later, Democrats objected to a routine extension of time allowing committees to meet beyond two hours after the Senate convened, a move they also used to delay initial appointments after Trump took office.
McConnell, however, did not call for a new investigation beyond the ones currently underway in the Senate and House Intelligence committees, saying Democrats’ outrage over the Comey firing rings hallow because of their past criticism of his actions during the 2016 presidential election.
Though many lawmakers, including Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, reiterated their calls for a special prosecutor or at least a special congressional committee to look into Russian interference in the election, McConnell said the move would be unnecessary.
“Today we’ll not doubt hear calls for a new investigation which would only serve to impede the current work being done to not only discover what the Russians may have done, but also to let this body and the national security community develop counter-measures and war-righting doctrine to see that it doesn’t occur again,” McConnell said on the floor.
Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., partially agreed with McConnell’s contention that addition additional layers to the investigation could slow things down.
“Obviously we want people to have trust in the process and I think the Senate Intelligence Committee is moving ahead on a bipartisan basis and I hope that continues,” Flake told reporters Wednesday.
Still, the demands for a higher inquiry into Russian interference in the election grew louder in the wake of Comey’s dismissal. Schumer also demanded a “closed, and if necessary, classified” briefing with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Rosenstein to provide more details on the Comey firing
“If there was ever a time when the circumstances warranted a special prosecutor, it is right now,” Schumer said on the Senate floor Wednesday morning.
Sen. John McCain, R-Az., did not rise to Schumer’s special prosecutor demand, but did repeat his call for a select committee on Russian interference.
“While the president has the legal authority to remove the director of the FBI, I am disappointed in the president’s decision to remove James Comey from office,” McCain said in a statement. James Comey is a man of honor and integrity and he has led the FBI well in extraordinary circumstances. I have long called for a special congressional committee to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. The president’s decision to remove the FBI director only confirms the need and urgency of such a committee.”