05.11.17

Peters Speaks on Firing of FBI Director James Comey

Peters: “The past four months suggest that our president thinks he can simply tweet and fire his way out of this problem while continuing to cozy up to Russia.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) spoke on the Senate floor yesterday about President Trump’s firing of Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) Director James Comey in the midst of an FBI investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Peters reiterated his call from March for a special prosecutor to conduct a nonpartisan, independent investigation into Russia’s involvement in our elections.

Watch his remarks here.

Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:

“Mr. President, I rise today to discuss President Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.

“During his campaign, then-candidate Trump regularly talked about how he would be a “law and order” president.

“‘Law and order’ means different things to different people, but all of us should be able to agree that we cannot have law and order without the rule of law.

“The rule of law is not a new – or even uniquely American – idea. It dates back to the Magna Carta of 1215. 

“This document – a pact between King John of England and his barons – established that the nation’s people have certain rights and that even the monarch is subject to the laws of the land. 

“Centuries later, as we cast off the British monarchy, declared our independence, and established our own form of government, our nation’s founders enshrined the rule of law in our Constitution.

“Our system of checks and balances was designed to hold all levels of the federal government accountable, especially the President.

“Without the rule of law – ‘law and order’ becomes merely, order – imposed by an unaccountable government.

“We know what order without the rule of law looks like. Last century it looked like the regimes of the Axis powers. Now it looks like North Korea, Egypt, the Philippines, and – yes – Russia.

“These are all nations led by strongmen whom our President has praised in some manner, strongmen who hold democratic institutions in contempt and exercise disproportionate control over their nation’s military, government institutions, and media.

“While the press here in the United States remains independent, we have a President who has chosen to regularly do battle with what he derides as the – quote – ‘Fake News Media.’

“He has even called our cherished, constitutionally protected, free press – and I quote – ‘the enemy of the American people.’

“It is often said that the news is ‘the first rough draft of history.’ And, while the President can attempt to wage war on the news media, none of us can truly fight history.

“But – here in the Senate – we can help shape it. History has its eyes on this chamber.

"Some of my colleagues across the aisle have said they are ‘troubled’ or ‘disappointed’ by the President’s decision to fire Director Comey.

“But it appears that many are taking a wait and see approach. They are taking a wait and see approach to Director Comey’s firing. They are taking a wait and see approach to how the administration replaces him. And they are taking a wait and see approach to ongoing investigations into the Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia.

“The problem here is that this administration won’t let us see anything. The Trump administration is actively working to cover up everything that we – as the independent legislative branch – need to see to get to the bottom of the Trump campaign’s potential collusion with Russia.

“Director Comey was investigating this potential collusion at the time he was fired, and it has been reported that he recently asked Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for an increase in money and personnel for this very investigation.

“Within a matter of days, Deputy AG Rosenstein wrote a memo recommending that President Trump fire Director Comey for actions he took last year.

“So, was Director Comey fired on May 9th, 2017 for his actions in 2016? Are we to believe the President and Attorney General carefully weighed the merits of Directors Comey’s service since the inauguration? Or was he fired because he was ramping up his investigation into Russian collusion?

“Let’s not forget that this is the same collusion investigation from which Attorney General Sessions recused himself before recommending that the President fire Director Comey.

“This is clearly a President who is more than happy to fire people, and to do so hastily.

“Director Comey is not the first public servant to be fired while investigating this administration, he is in good company.

“Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was fired while overseeing the collection of intelligence related to meetings between the Russian ambassador and members of the Trump team.

“The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York was fired while investigating HHS Secretary Price’s financial investments, in addition to leading a separate investigation into corrupt Russian businessmen and officials.

“One firing is an incident. Two is a coincidence, and three is a pattern.

“The past four months suggest that our president thinks he can simply tweet and fire his way out of this problem while continuing to cozy up to Russia.

“Earlier today – less than 24 hours after firing Director Comey – President Trump hosted the Russian Ambassador and Foreign Minister in the Oval Office.

“I am deeply concerned that the President is unable – or unwilling – to grasp what the underlying problem here actually is.

“When the President hears Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle discuss the Russian attack on our election and the foundations of our democracy, he hears sour grapes stemming from people who would have liked the Republican primary or the general election to have ended differently.

“Let me be clear. This is not about scoring political points. This is not about winning the news cycle or a back-and-forth on Twitter. This is not the newest iteration of partisan politics.

“Now is the time for all of us to put country above party. Throughout our nation’s history, Senators have come together to tackle some of our country’s most difficult problems.

“Our union has survived tougher challenges and I am confident that we can navigate this together, but first we need to know exactly what we are up against.

“This is about properly diagnosing and curing a potential Russian infection in the White House and inoculating our government and elections for the future.

“Firing your doctor won’t make your illness go away.

“Taking a ‘wait and see’ approach won’t either.

“We need an independent, special prosecutor to diagnose potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.

“We cannot wait for the President to hand pick a new FBI Director who will owe his or her nomination for this unexpected job opening to the very people he or she will charged with investigating.

“Our democracy is resilient and our democracy is strong.

“But if we have a festering, foreign infection that is left untreated, our democratic system will weaken. We need a special prosecutor to either identify and address any malfeasance, or issue this White House a clean bill of health.

“Democracies are built on trust in civic institutions, a trust that has eroded in recent years. I am deeply concerned that this erosion is accelerating.

“As Americans – and as elected officials – we must come together and restore our constituents’ trust in the federal government, we cannot just wait and see any longer.

“Now is the time for an independent special prosecutor.”