After Comey firing, North Shore reps call for special prosecutor

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James Comey, the former FBI director, speaks at a June 2016 news conference with Sally Q. Yates, the former acting U.S. attorney general. (Photo from the FBI via Wikimedia Commons)

The North Shore’s federal representatives want a special prosecutor to handle the investigation of President Donald Trump’s alleged ties to Russia following FBI Director James Comey’s firing Tuesday night.

Trump ostensibly fired Comey for mishandling inquiries into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, though the president previously praised him for it.

But Comey was overseeing the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign’s possible collusion with Russian officials to defeat Clinton in last year’s election, with which Trump has, reportedly, become increasingly frustrated.

Democratic U.S. Reps. Tom Suozzi of Glen Cove and Kathleen Rice of Garden City called Tuesday for the immediate appointment of a special prosecutor or other authority to take over the Russia inquiry. Rice said the investigation could be jeopardized if it is not independently led.

“Congress must immediately appoint an independent commission for investigation,” Rice wrote on Twitter Tuesday night. “Anyone who refuses will be complicit.”

Senators Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, also Democrats, agreed.

At a news conference Tuesday, Schumer, the Senate minority leader, said he told Trump that he was “making a big mistake,” according to Newsday.

On Twitter, Gillibrand accused Trump of “throwing our democracy into chaos by trying to shut down an investigation.”

“If we don’t get a special prosecutor, every American will rightfully suspect that the decision to fire was part of a cover-up,” Schumer tweeted Tuesday.

A memo to Attorney General Jeff Sessions from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommended Comey’s firing primarily because he broke FBI protocol about public discussion of investigations.

Comey came under fire when he called Clinton’s use of the private server “extremely careless” despite not recommending criminal charges against her.

Clinton has blamed her loss to Trump partially on Comey’s decision to announce the reopening of that investigation less than two weeks before the election; the FBI ultimately found nothing.

Comey also publicly confirmed in March that the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, which news media had already reported.

Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) told Newsday he had always thought Comey was “straight and honorable.”

“I’m not trying to be funny, but I guess this is one issue Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton agree on,” King told Newsday.

Rep. Lee Zeldin of Shirley acknowledged that Comey faced “enormous pressures” last year when the FBI’s work may have influenced the election.

“Ultimately, President Trump’s decision does in fact present the Bureau with a fresh start and the type of new beginning that has enormous potential to restore any broken trust wherever it may exist,” Zeldin said in a statement to Newsday.

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