Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer confirmed Sunday he would support his caucus in the upper chamber if they blocked the appointment of a new FBI director until a special prosecutor to the Russia investigation is named.
“I think there are a lot of Democrats who feel that way. 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,” Schumer told CNN’s Jake Tapper on “State of the Union.”
Schumer said, “Remember, the criteria for a special prosecutor, independent in making day-to-day decisions from the hierarchy in the Justice Department and the White House, can only be fired for cause, has to report to Congress, and, very importantly, can look into any attempts to thwart the investigation, are all really important criteria.”
He added, “To have that special prosecutor, people would breathe a sigh of relief, because then there would be a real independent person overlooking the FBI director.”
The Trump White House interviewed several potential candidates for the job of FBI director over the weekend in the wake of the dismissal of now fired FBI Director James Comey.
A special prosecutor should not be chosen by “one of the political appointees” within the Trump administration, Warner told reporters last Wednesday. “I don’t have faith in the political appointees.”
Warner added that the Senate “ought to, frankly, hold off on” the confirmation process for Comey’s replacement at the FBI “until we get the special prosecutor.”
Schumer told Tapper, “To have that special prosecutor, people would breathe a sigh of relief, because then there would be a real independent person overlooking the FBI director. So, I think the two are related. I think Mark Warner’s idea is a good idea. And I think it will get some broad support in our caucus.”
“The key here, of course, is getting some of our Republican colleagues to join us. We’re hoping. We’re waiting. We understand it’s difficult, but I think patriotism and the needs of this country demand it,” said the Democratic minority leader.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, rejected the idea of a special prosecutor last Wednesday, saying on the floor of Senate:
So what we have now, Mr. President, is our Democratic colleagues complaining about the removal of an FBI Director whom they themselves repeatedly and sharply criticized, by a man, Rod Rosenstein, whom they repeatedly and effusively praised — when Mr. Rosenstein recommended Mr. Comey’s removal for many of the very reasons they have complained about.