Share this story...
Latest News

The Latest: Pence says firing unrelated to Russia probe

FBI police vehicles are parked next to the J. Edgar Hoover FBI headquarters building early in the morning in Washington, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey Tuesday evening. (AP Photo/J. David Ake)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and FBI Director James Comey’s firing (all times local):

11:12 a.m.

Vice President Mike Pence is defending the firing of FBI Director James Comey, saying the “president made the right decision at the right time.” He said Comey’s firing was not related to the investigation into possible contacts between the Trump presidential campaign and Russia.

Pence says the administration is now looking forward to finding someone to lead the law enforcement agency.

President Donald Trump fired Comey on Tuesday. Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, criticized Comey’s handling of the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices.

Pence says Comey had lost the confidence of the American people. He says Trump took “strong and decisive leadership” to put the safety and security of the American people first.

__

11:05 a.m.

The top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee says President Donald Trump told her that he was firing FBI Director James Comey because “the department is a mess.”

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein said she was surprised and taken aback after Trump called her and other senators to deliver the news shortly before the White House announced Comey’s dismissal Tuesday.

Feinstein says she questions the reasoning and timing behind Trump’s decision and asked the GOP-led committee to bring in Justice Department officials to explain it.

She said what “sticks in her mind” is a classified briefing Comey delivered in March in which he laid out counterintelligence and criminal investigations the FBI is conducting into Russian interference in the 2016 elections.

She said it’s clear “the FBI was taking its job seriously.”

__

10:45 a.m.

The Senate’s Russia investigators are asking the Treasury Department’s criminal investigation division for any information relevant to President Donald Trump, his top aides and campaign officials.

Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the top Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, told CNN that the request is part of the panel’s effort to “follow the intel no matter where it leads.” Warner’s office confirmed the senator’s comments.

The Senate intelligence committee is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election and possible ties between Trump associates and the Russian government.

The House intelligence committee is conducting a parallel investigation.

___

10:25 a.m.

Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said Russia is not concerned about Comey’s firing.

When asked how Comey’s sacking could influence Russia-U.S. ties, Peskov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday: “This is the U.S. president’s sovereign decision which does not have anything to do with Russia and should not have anything to do with Russia.”

Russian state television network Rossiya 24 referred to President Richard Nixon’s firing of independent special prosecutor Archibald Cox during the Watergate scandal. It said that “the story with Comey is different.” Comey, it said, “played a good cop and fell into a trap he had set for himself.”

Senior Russian lawmaker Alexei Pushkov tweeted that Comey “kept an eye on the ‘Russian threat’ so hard that he did not notice the threat of his own sacking.”

Another senior lawmaker, Konstantin Kosachev, rejected suggestions that Comey’s sacking could have a Russian link. “The ‘Russian trail’ is hardly there and definitely could not have been the underlying cause for the firing of such a prominent player on the Washington scene,” Kosachev told the Interfax news agency. “Because this trail is merely a tool in the domestic political game and Trump’s stakes are more than just about the Russia issue.”

__

10:20 a.m.

A Justice Department official says Attorney General Jeff Sessions is interviewing candidates to serve as the interim replacement for fired FBI Director James Comey.

Comey’s deputy, FBI veteran Andrew McCabe, has become acting director after Comey was fired by President Donald Trump.

But a Justice Department official says senior leaders are interviewing additional candidates who could do the job until a permanent replacement for Comey is named and confirmed by the Senate.

An announcement about Comey’s interim successor could come as soon as Wednesday.

The official wasn’t authorized to discuss the selection process by name and spoke on condition of anonymity.

___

10 a.m.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is asking that Attorney General Jeff Sessions and his deputy appear before the Senate to answer questions about the circumstances surrounding President Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.

The New York Democrat said Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein should discuss why Sessions participated in the decision to fire Comey despite recusing himself and whether Rosenstein acted on his own when recommending Comey’s dismissal or whether he was order to do so by the White House.

Schumer also repeated his call for a special counsel to investigate ties between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government.

He also said the administration should answer why the president didn’t wait until the Justice Department’s inspector general issued a report on Comey’s much-criticized actions regarding the FBI’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private email server.

___

9:50 a.m.

Amid Democratic calls for a special prosecutor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell says a new investigation of Russia meddling could only serve to impede the current probes underway.

McConnell spoke on the Senate floor as Democratic senators gathered to try to pressure the GOP over President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.

McConnell didn’t give his own view on Trump’s decision to fire Comey. But he noted that Democrats had repeatedly criticized Comey in the past, and had called for his removal.

Following McConnell on the floor, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer called for a special prosecutor.

But McConnell said: “Today we’ll no doubt hear calls for a new investigation which could only serve to impede the current work being done.”

The Senate and House intelligence committees are investigating Russian meddling in the presidential election and Russian ties to the Trump campaign.

___

9:40 a.m.

Sen. Lindsey Graham says he doesn’t believe a special prosecutor should be considered unless the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible connections to Russia becomes a criminal matter.

It’s now a counterintelligence investigation.

The South Carolina Republican says if it becomes “a criminal investigation where the Trump campaign may be exposed to criminal charges, then that’s the time to have that conversation.”

Graham says he’s confident the FBI’s investigation won’t be hampered by President Donald Trump’s firing of the bureau’s director, James Comey.

___

9:30 a.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman says Moscow isn’t concerned about the firing of the FBI director.

Dmitry Peskov says Russia hopes that President Donald Trump’s decision to fire the FBI’s James Comey won’t affect U.S.-Russia ties “in any way.”

Peskov calls it “an entirely domestic matter” for the United States.

___

9:10 a.m.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov is reacting sarcastically to questions about President Donald Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey.

Lavrov and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson were asked during a photo-op whether Comey’s firing cast a shadow over the meeting between the two diplomats.

Lavrov said: “Was he fired? You’re kidding. You’re kidding.” Then the Russian diplomat waved his hand dismissively and exited the room alongside Tillerson.

The meeting comes amid growing concerns about Trump’s decision to fire the head of the law enforcement agency investigating Russian interference in the U.S. election and possible collusion by Trump’s campaign.

Lavrov is scheduled to meet later Wednesday with Trump at the White House.

__

8:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump is attacking Sen. Richard Blumenthal for criticizing his firing of FBI Director James Comey.

The Connecticut Democrat appeared on MSNBC and CNN Wednesday morning. On CNN, Blumenthal said that the firing had prompted a “looming constitutional crisis.”

Trump tweeted Wednesday that he was watching Blumenthal speak, calling it a “joke.” He criticized Blumenthal for past statements that he served in Vietnam, saying he “would talk of his great bravery and conquests in Vietnam – except he was never there.”

Trump said that Blumenthal “cried like a baby” when caught and that he should be investigated.

Trump has previously attacked Blumenthal over statements that he served in Vietnam. Blumenthal was in the Marine Corps Reserves at the time but did not fight in Vietnam.

__

7:40 a.m.

President Donald Trump says that Republicans and Democrats will soon “be thanking me” for firing FBI Director James Comey.

Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning that Comey had “lost the confidence of almost everyone in Washington, Republican and Democrat alike.” He added: “when things calm down, they will be thanking me!”

Trump abruptly fired Comey Tuesday night. The surprise decision came amid the law enforcement agency’s investigation into whether Trump’s presidential campaign was connected to Russian meddling in the election.

__

7:24 a.m.

President Donald Trump says fired FBI Director James Comey “will be replaced by someone who will do a far better job, bringing back the spirit and prestige of the FBI.”

In an early-morning tweet Wednesday, Trump attacked Democrats critical of his firing of Comey.

Trump said that Democrats “have said some of the worst things about James Comey, including the fact that he should be fired, but now they play so sad!”

Trump abruptly fired Comey in the midst of the law enforcement agency’s investigation into whether Trump’s presidential campaign was connected to Russian meddling in the election.

___

4:40 a.m.

Amid the clamor surrounding the firing of FBI Director James Comey, President Donald Trump singled out one another Washington fixture for his scorn.

The president went to his Twitter account late Tuesday to chide Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a fellow New Yorker, for comments the Democrat made about the stunning dismissal.

Trump had telephoned Schumer earlier to inform him of the decision. Schumer said he told Trump that “you are making a big mistake.” Schumer also questioned why the firing occurred on Tuesday and wondered whether investigations into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia were “getting too close for the president.” He said unless a special prosecutor is named, Americans could rightfully wonder whether the move was “part of a cover-up.”

Trump fired back with a tweet exclaiming: “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer stated recently, ‘I do not have confidence in him (James Comey) any longer.’ Then acts so indignant.”

___

3:35 a.m.

President Donald Trump’s stunning firing of FBI Director James Comey throws into question the future of a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible connections to Russia. It immediately raised suspicions of an underhanded effort to stymie a probe that has shadowed the administration from the outset.

Democrats likened the firing to President Richard Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” and renewed calls for the appointment of a special prosecutor, and some Republicans also questioned the move.

In his letter to Comey, Trump said the firing was necessary to restore “public trust and confidence” in the FBI. The administration paired the letter with a scathing review by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein of how Comey handled the investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s email practices, including his decision to hold a news conference announcing its findings and releasing “derogatory information” about Clinton.

11:05 p.m.

FBI Director James Comey was speaking to agents at the FBI’s field office in Los Angeles when the news of his firing broke.

That’s according to a law enforcement official who was present at the time Tuesday. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the official wasn’t authorized to discuss the situation publicly.

The official says television screens in the field office began flashing the news, and Comey initially chuckled. But he continued to speak to the agents, finishing his speech before heading into an office. He did not reappear in the main room.

Comey later left Los Angeles on a plane to return to Washington.

–By Michael Balsamo in Los Angeles

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Related Links