Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union” that he would support an effort by Senate Democrats to refuse a vote on President Trump’s nominee to be the new director of the FBI if a special prosecutor is not named to investigate Russian involvement in the 2017 campaign.
The notion that Democrats might refuse to vote on any nominee put forward by Trump to be the bureau’s director was first floated last week by a handful of lawmakers including Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). Schumer, who spoke Sunday morning to CNN’s “State of the Union,” is the highest-profile Democrat to back such a plan.
“Yes, I think there are a lot of Democrats who feel that way,” Schumer told host Jake Tapper when asked whether he would support a move to block any potential FBI director until an independent investigator is named. “We will have to discuss it as a caucus, but I would support that move, because who the FBI director is, is related to who the special prosecutor is.”
The president’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey last week raised eyebrows from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, especially given the FBI’s ongoing investigation into Trump’s campaign. The president did little to calm concerns about Comey’s dismissal when he told NBC News in an interview that he weighed the Russia investigation, which he called a “made-up story,” as he made up his mind to fire the FBI director.
As the Senate’s minority party, Democrats would have little power to truly block a new FBI director, whose nomination would need only a simple majority to clear the bar of confirmation. But a partisan battle over the head of the FBI would be new territory for the Senate, which typically confirms the bureau’s director with essentially universal bipartisan support. (Comey was confirmed by a vote of 93-1 in 2013.)
Schumer predicted that the plan would enjoy “broad support” among Senate Democrats, as well as among the American people.
Democrats sure have fallen in love with special prosecutors, haven’t they? The IRS can target conservatives for special treatment, but we trusted the Democratic Justice Department to thoroughly and fairly investigate that, right? Ditto for Fast and Furious, Benghazi, Hillary’s emails, and any one of a half dozen more instances of abuse of power, unconstitutional actions, or illegal activities carried out by the Obama administration. We didn’t need a special prosecutor for any of those, said Democrats at the time.
Now, suddenly (!) we need a special prosecutor for…sorry, but I’ve lost track. How many “special prosecutors” have the Democrats called for in the first four months of the Trump administration?
As for a new FBI director, it’s not really necessary for the smooth functioning of the bureau to have a permanent director. If Democrats want to look like spoiled brats by refusing the courtesy of voting on a new nominee, that’s their choice.