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Leahy, Sanders Renew Calls For Independent Investigation Of Trump Ties To Russia

Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Sen. Patrick Leahy, shown here with Sen. Diane Feinstein, D.-Calif., at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Russian interference in the presidential election, wants a special prosecutor to examine possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.

Following news on Tuesday evening that President Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey, who was overseeing an investigation of possible ties between Russia and the Trump campaign, Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernie Sanders have renewed their calls for an independent investigation into the matter.

Sen. Leahy issued a statement calling the move "shocking."

"The President has removed the sitting FBI Director in the midst of one of the most critical national security investigations in the history of our country — one that implicates senior officials in the Trump campaign and administration," Leahy said. "This is nothing less than Nixonian."

In his statement, Leahy reiterated his call for an independent investigation of the possible ties.

"There simply is no avoiding the compelling fact that this cascading situation demands the prompt appointment of an independent Special Counsel to pick up the pieces of these investigations," he said.

Sen. Bernie Sanders issued a reaction shortly thereafter, echoing Leahy's call for an independent investigation.

"I find it deeply troubling that this decision comes a day after damning testimony by former acting Attorney General Sally Yates on Russia’s ties to the Trump campaign and just days before Comey was scheduled to appear before the Senate Intelligence Committee," Sanders said. "It is clear that whomever President Trump handpicks to lead the FBI will not be able to objectively carry out this investigation. We need an independent investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia.”

Earlier Tuesday, Leahy had said he was troubled that the administration decided to keep former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn in office for 18 days after it was told that Flynn had lied about his contact with Russian officials.

"They kept him on for a number of days even, after they had been warned,” said Leahy. “They’ve demonstrated they cannot handle this independently."

Leahy says the time has come for Congress to appoint an independent prosecutor to fully investigate allegations that some members of then-candidate Donald Trump's campaign team were involved with Russian officials during the 2016 election.

"So the American people, whether you’re Republicans or Democrats, can look at it and say, 'OK, now we know what happened,'" said Leahy.

Leahy says he expects more information will be released in the coming days about ties between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

Update 7:37 p.m. This story has been updated to include reactions from Leahy and Sanders following news of Comey's firing.

Bob Kinzel has been covering the Vermont Statehouse since 1981 — longer than any continuously serving member of the Legislature. With his wealth of institutional knowledge, he answers your questions on our series, "Ask Bob."
Angela Evancie serves as Vermont Public's Senior VP of Content, and was the Director of Engagement Journalism and the Executive Producer of Brave Little State, the station's people-powered journalism project.
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