Some Colo. GOP congressmen want Russia probe to continue, but few call for independent investigators

Posted at 11:37 AM, May 10, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-10 17:52:51-04

DENVER – Reaction from Colorado’s Republican members of Congress to FBI Director James Comey’s firing started rolling in Wednesday morning more than half a day after he was fired.

Sen. Cory Gardner, Rep. Scott Tipton and Rep. Mike Coffman all sent out statements Wednesday morning, though none called for the appointment of an independent investigator or counsel to oversee the investigation into possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, as did Colorado’s Democratic members of Congress and several other congressional Republicans on Tuesday.

The White House is holding an 11:30 a.m. press briefing on Comey’s firing, which you can watch in full by clicking here or in the player above.

Coffman said that the timing of Trump’s decision to fire Comey concerned him and came as a “quite a surprise,” as it comes less than three weeks after Comey confirmed there was an ongoing investigation into possible collusion between Russia and Trump’s campaign and associates.

“The timing of the president’s decision…does concern me,” Coffman said. “I think it may create the appearance that Comey was fired due to his role in the investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.”

But he also said that he feels Comey was “no longer fit to serve” as the FBI’s director because of the way he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email servers.

Last year, Coffman used Comey’s testimony on the servers to raise money for his campaign, saying that “Hillary Clinton breaks the law” and calling Clinton the “most corrupt” candidate in years.

But Coffman said in April in an MSNBC interview that he thought Comey’s FBI was questionable and that “it might be time for an independent counsel.”

“I just really think that the House Intelligence Committee has been too politicized, which is contrary to the history of that committee. It’s doing better on the Sentate side. I think the FBI, under Comey, is a little questionable too, so I think it might be time for an independent counsel.”

Gardner, like Coffman and several Democrats, said they hoped that the FBI’s new director will be trusted by the American people. But he also stopped short of calling for an independent investigator, despite saying the FBI and Senate probes should continue.

“There are several thousand immensely qualified people working for the FBI and the next director of the FBI, like Comey, must be an independent voice for the bureau – specifically for its continued investigation into Russia’s involvement with our election process,” he said.

Gardner introduced a bill last summer to revoke Clinton’s security clearance, as well as those of her State Department team, after Comey’s testimony.

Tipton also said he is supportive of the ongoing congressional and FBI investigations into the possible Russian collusion, but also stopped short of calling for an independent investigation.

“None of the investigations should be impacted by the firing of Mr. Comey. Mr. Comey’s actions over the past year were not in keeping with standard Department of Justice protocol and embroiled the FBI, which is supposed to be the nation’s most trusted law enforcement agency, into a political controversy,” Tipton said.

Denver7 has still not heard back from Rep. Ken Buck or Rep. Doug Lamborn regarding Comey’s firing despite requests for comment.

Colorado’s Democratic members of Congress on Tuesday all called for special investigators in the Russia probe. Sen. Michael Bennet and Rep. Diana DeGette both furthered their comments Wednesday, with Bennet calling the president’s actions “unbelievable” and DeGette pushing ahrder for an independent commission.

Bennet also spoke on the Senate floor about Comey's firing, and called for an independent special prosecutor once again. Watch his remarks in the player below or by clicking here.

Sources confirmed to multiple news outlets Wednesday that Comey had requested more resources from the Justice Department for the probe, which the Justice Department has denied.

Several people have already been tabbed as possible replacements for Comey, though it’s unclear how soon he might be replaced with a permanent new director. Andrew McCabe has been named Acting FBI Director and will testify in front of the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday.

Comey has been called to testify in front of the committee in a closed hearing next week.