Posts Tagged ‘Chuck Schumer’

GOP Senate Leader Mitch McConnell Abandons Health-Care Bill

July 18, 2017

Majority leader says “it is now apparent” Republican effort to repeal and replace Obamacare won’t be successful

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell withdrew the GOP’s health-bill overhaul late Monday night.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell withdrew the GOP’s health-bill overhaul late Monday night. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON—Senate GOP leaders gave up their effort to dismantle and simultaneously replace much of the Affordable Care Act, after the defections of two more Republican senators left the party short of the votes needed to pass President Donald Trump’s top legislative priority of his first seven months in office.

In a stinging defection for party leadership, GOP Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas on Monday night became the third and fourth Republicans to oppose the latest version of the GOP bill, which would roll back and replace much of the Affordable Care Act.

Senate Republicans had already lost two GOP votes, from Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky and Susan Collins of Maine, and the new opposition from Messrs. Lee and Moran meant Senate leaders didn’t have enough support to advance the bill in a procedural vote.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R, Ky.) acknowledged the defeat. “Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” he said in a statement.

Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!

In a strategy facing long odds, the majority leader said the Senate would instead vote in coming days on a bill the chamber passed in late 2015 to unravel most of the ACA, which former President Barack Obama vetoed in January 2016.

Conservatives in both chambers and Mr. Trump have pressed to repeat the vote on the 2015 bill, which Mr. McConnell said would come as an amendment to the health-care bill passed by the House in May and would allow for a two-year transition.

“Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!” Mr. Trump tweeted shortly before Mr. McConnell’s statement.

Mr. Trump had embraced the idea earlier in July when it was proposed by Republican Sen. Ben Sasse, who noted that 49 sitting GOP senators had voted for a sweeping repeal bill earlier.

But many Republican senators have balked at this strategy, saying they wouldn’t feel comfortable rolling back the ACA without being able to tell their constituents what would supplant it.

Mr. McConnell’s latest tactic applies new pressure to conservatives who have so far blocked a bill they have said falls short of ACA repeal by offering them the chance to vote on exactly that. And while it is unlikely to become law, it also offers a way to move on from a bruising fight.

With 52 Republicans in the Senate, Mr. McConnell needed to secure at least 50 GOP votes, with Vice President Mike Pence casting a tiebreaking vote. No Democrats were expected to support the bill. The opposition from Messrs. Lee and Moran ended a frenzied period of negotiations aimed at shoring up faltering GOP support.

“In addition to not repealing all of the Obamacare taxes, it doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle-class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations,” Mr. Lee, one of the Senate’s most conservative Republicans, said in a statement Monday night.

Mr. Moran said he objected to the process used to craft the Senate GOP health-care bill, which he said “fails to repeal the Affordable Care Act or address health care’s rising costs.”

Messrs. Lee and Moran are likely to face backlash from Mr. Trump and his supporters, who were eager to see Republicans keep their seven-year promise to repeal the 2010 health law.

Their move comes as a surprise to many in Washington, since Mr. Moran rarely breaks with GOP leaders and Mr. Lee has often voted in step with Republican Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), who introduced a key measure that GOP leaders incorporated into the bill last week.

On Monday night, the White House issued a statement that repeated a stance the president’s officials have taken in recent days—that GOP senators have no choice but to act.

“Insurance markets continue to collapse, premiums continue to rise, and Obamacare remains a failure. Inaction is not an option,” a spokesman said. “We look forward to Congress continuing to work toward a bill the president can sign to end the Obamacare nightmare and restore quality care at affordable prices.”

Republicans’ struggle to pass a health-care bill has exposed divisions within the party that could imperil other key items on their legislative agenda, including their yearslong push to overhaul the tax code.

Many had expected the next defection to come from the more centrist GOP senators, who have wavered over the latest version of the health-care bill, including Sens. Dean Heller of Nevada, who is up for re-election next year, and Republicans concerned about the bill’s cuts to federal Medicaid funding, such as Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

Democrats said it was time for Republicans to begin to work with them on strengthening the health-care system.

“This second failure of Trumpcare is proof positive that the core of this bill is unworkable,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said Monday night. “Rather than repeating the same failed, partisan process yet again, Republicans should start from scratch and work with Democrats on a bill that lowers premiums, provides long term stability to the markets and improves our health-care system.”

The downfall of the bill is a tough blow for Mr. Trump, who has made it clear that undoing the 2010 law is a priority and has leaned heavily on fellow Republicans to make it happen. Mr. Trump said recently he would be very angry if the repeal legislation didn’t make it to his desk, and he was meeting Monday night with a handful of Republican senators to discuss the legislation.

Earlier Monday, the president promised Republicans would replace the law with “something that is going to be outstanding” and “far, far better than failing Obamacare.”

“We’re going to get that done,” he said, “and I think we’re going to surprise a lot of people.”

Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price has already encouraged states to apply for waivers giving them more flexibility in enforcing the law and structuring their Medicaid programs. The waivers allow states to require many people to work to obtain their Medicaid benefits, among other changes.

Insurers will immediately be looking for assurances that the cost-sharing subsidies will be paid, said Larry Levitt, a senior vice president at the Kaiser Family Foundation. The drop-dead date for insurers will be mid to late September, when they have to sign contracts for 2018.

The individual insurance market has been stabilizing in most of the country and could continue just fine, Mr. Levitt said, but insurers will be reading the tea leaves for whether the Trump administration will make the subsidy payments they are expecting and enforce the individual mandate.

There are still some fragile markets, especially in rural areas, and they will likely require some shoring up to make sure insurers are participating and premiums are affordable, he said.

Write to Kristina Peterson at kristina.peterson@wsj.com and Stephanie Armour at stephanie.armour@wsj.com

Appeared in the July 18, 2017, print edition as ‘GOP Abandons Senate Health Bill.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/gop-senate-leader-mcconnell-abandons-health-care-bill-1500348064

Related:

Republicans Aren’t Team Players

July 17, 2017

GOP Senators who defect from ObamaCare repeal will hurt themselves, their party and the country.

Image may contain: 2 people

July 16, 2017 2:17 p.m. ET

Politics is a team sport, and Republicans are playing it poorly. They have one more chance in the Senate to repeal and replace ObamaCare—possibly their last hope for a victory.

Democrats are performing like a well-coached team. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has all 48 members of his caucus on board with saving ObamaCare at all cost. It’s been a successful strategy.

It works for one reason: Republicans are divided. Their 52-48 majority in the Senate means they can lose two votes and still prevail, since Vice President Mike Pence is the tiebreaker. After promising to get rid of ObamaCare for the past seven years, it shouldn’t be difficult.

But as many as eight Republican senators opposed the first GOP bill, forcing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to come up with a revised version. While an improvement, it has encountered opposition too. Mr. McConnell is skillful in bringing senators together. But here his task is more difficult than usual because the dissidents don’t all agree on what’s wrong with the bill. Appeasing one senator may alienate another.

This is an example of why legislative success depends on operating as a team. You don’t abandon your team just because you don’t get everything you want (or want left out). You hold your nose and vote for an imperfect measure, sometimes merely because it’s politically beneficial and better than the alternative.

This is especially true in dumping ObamaCare. The Republican alternative is a more free-market health-care system in which people can buy the insurance they want, not what government requires.

Sticking with the team makes that possible. But too many Republicans aren’t comfortable as team players. To them, it’s shady and unprincipled to vote for something about which you have serious doubts. Democrats are more realistic and less persnickety, so they’re better at uniting.

https://www.wsj.com/articles/republicans-arent-team-players-1500229048

Cavuto: Do Democrats Have Any Heart at All?

June 24, 2017

Image may contain: 1 person, suit

June 23, 2017

‘Lion of London Bridge’ Stopped Terrorists in Bar With His Bare Hands


On “Your World” today, Neil Cavuto blasted Democrats for their scathing criticisms of the Senate version of the GOP health care bill.

“If Republicans still spending hundreds of billions of dollars is mean, please tell me what constitutes nice,” and incredulous Cavuto said.

“The Senate bill may be meaner” than the House bill, Sen Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on Capitol Hill.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the bill “heartless” at a press conference.

Cavuto pointed out that people with preexisting conditions are still covered under the new bill, and children can still stay on their parents plans until age 26.

What is “mean,” he remarked, is doubling premiums, shrinking coverage, limited insurance plan options, and failing subsidies.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell unveiled the Senate’s bill Thursday after leadership was roundly criticized for the secretive process. The vote is planned for next week, but four Republican senators have already said they will not vote for it, making it dead on arrival as it stands now.

Schumer lecturing the GOP about the secretive process by which the bill was drafted is “pretty stupid,” said Cavuto, since ObamaCare was cooked up in secret.

Democrats’ comments show a “phony interest in the health of folks for whom liberals couldn’t care less.”

“We need a stethoscope alright, not to find whether there’s any heart in this latest Republican plan, but to confirm whether Democrats have any heart at all,” Cavuto concluded.

Watch his remarks

See the video:

http://insider.foxnews.com/2017/06/23/democrats-health-care-congress-heart-senate-neil-cavuto

Image result for barack obama photos

36 Times Obama Said You Could Keep Your Health Care Plan

Video:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qpa-5JdCnmo


Hollywood Filmmaker Calls Trump and McConnell ‘Terrorists’

‘Lion of London Bridge’ Stopped Terrorists in Bar With His Bare Hands

CBO’s Health-Law Tally Sets Up Senate Fight — “Doing nothing is not an option.”

May 25, 2017

Congressional Budget Office’s estimate says bill would lower premiums

 No automatic alt text available.

 Video:
 https://www.wsj.com/articles/house-gop-health-bill-would-add-23-million-uninsured-cut-119-billion-in-deficit-by-2026-cbo-says-1495658914
CBO Scores House Health Bill on Pre-Existing Conditions
The Congressional Budget Office released its appraisal on Wednesday of the health overhaul bill approved by the House. What does it have to say about state waivers and how the less healthy would be affected? WSJ’s Jason Bellini has #TheShortAnswer.

The health-overhaul bill approved by House Republicans would leave 23 million more people uninsured while reducing the cumulative federal deficit by $119 billion in the next decade compared with current law, according to an estimate from the Congressional Budget Office.

The report by the nonpartisan CBO is likely to roil the current Senate talks over its version of the bill to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act.

The findings provide ammunition for the two competing factions that Senate Republican leaders need to pull together to pass a bill. Centrist Republicans, concerned about the number of uninsured, hope to make the House bill less far-reaching, while conservatives want to double down on measures the CBO suggests will lower premiums on average.

Percentage of U.S. residents under 65 without health insurance

Sources: U.S. Census Bureau (actual); Congressional Budget Office (projected)

The latest report doesn’t differ significantly from the CBO’s analysis of an earlier version of the House bill, which estimated 24 million fewer people would be insured through 2026 than under the current health law. Democrats said it confirmed that the GOP health push would harm millions of Americans.

Some Senate Republicans say privately that their efforts to forge an agreement that can attract at least 50 votes faces a tough road. A working group of 13 Republican senators is pushing to come up with a proposal by Congress’s August recess, and if they don’t make progress in coming months, that could forecast trouble.

In the meantime, lawmakers are likely to get pushback from voters at home during next week’s recess, as they did following the CBO’s last report.

“Regardless of any CBO score, it’s no secret Obamacare is collapsing under its own weight,” Sen. David Perdue (R., Ga.) said. “Doing nothing is not an option.”

Democrats, who strongly support the ACA, said the report confirmed that Republicans favor the wealthy and the healthy, while leaving others to fend for themselves. “Unless you’re a healthy millionaire, Trumpcare is a nightmare,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said Wednesday evening.

The White House disputed the CBO’s assessment, with a spokesman saying that “history has proven the CBO to be totally incapable of accurately predicting how health-care legislation will impact health-insurance coverage.”

The biggest change House leaders made to push through their bill was to add an amendment letting states opt out of some of the ACA’s provisions. The amendment would allow states to get waivers that could permit health insurers to sell less comprehensive coverage plans. They could also impose higher premiums on some people with pre-existing conditions who let coverage lapse.

The CBO found the legislation would reduce the cumulative federal deficit by $119 billion over roughly the next decade. In early March, it reported an earlier version of the bill would cut the deficit by $337 billion over the next decade.

Diminishing Returns

The original bill forecast deficit savings of nearly $340 billion. A first round of revisions did away with certain taxes a year earlier than planned and added funds to offset the cost of insurance for older adults not yet eligible for Medicare. The bill as passed by the House added funding for high-risk pools.

Cumulative effect on the deficit, in billions

Source: Congressional Budget Office

The most complex part of the CBO’s assessment involved the crucial question of what would happen to insurance premiums under the House bill. Compared to current law, premiums would increase by an average of about 20% in 2018 and 5% in 2019, the report concluded.

But in 2020, average premiums would differ based on whether states obtained waivers, with prices falling for many consumers. Some people would see average premium reductions of up to 30% in parts of the country through 2026, while others would see far smaller drops.

However, the report found that while healthier people would see lower premiums, in some parts of the country, where states opt out of some of the ACA’s rules, “less healthy people would face extremely high premiums.” It also noted that in some cases, lower premiums would be offset by higher out-of-pocket medical costs.

Republicans cheered the prospect of lower overall premiums cited by the report. “This CBO report again confirms that the American Health Care Act achieves our mission: lowering premiums and lowering the deficit,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) said.

But Senate Republicans who have been critical of the House GOP bill said Wednesday that the CBO report reiterated why the House-passed bill came up short. “This bill does not do enough to address Nevada’s Medicaid population or protect Nevadans with pre-existing conditions,” said Sen. Dean Heller, a Nevada Republican who is up for re-election next year and opposes the House bill.

Related Video

Ohio Governor John Kasich is a vocal critic of the GOP’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, and he isn’t worried about speaking out against his own party. WSJ’s Shelby Holliday interviews Mr. Kasich about some of the top issues facing Americans.

The challenge for GOP leaders is that any proposal that tempers the House bill, for example by delaying or reducing its cuts to the Medicaid program, could spur a revolt among conservative Republicans who want a more aggressive and rapid implosion of the current health law.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) can lose no more than two of the 52 Republicans to pass a bill with no Democratic votes. He said Wednesday that it wasn’t clear how he would find the votes.

“I don’t know how we get to 50 [votes] at the moment. But that’s the goal,” Mr. McConnell told Reuters in a sentiment echoed later by other Republicans.

Conservatives in particular are focused on trying to find a way to bring down premiums, but have yet to coalesce around a method to do so. “We are moving in that direction but we’re not there yet,” said Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas). “That is the only way it is remotely possible to garner a majority from Republicans’ excruciatingly narrow majority in the Senate.”

Democrats and progressives are using the latest CBO report to argue the GOP plan would take coverage from millions of people, including many low-income elderly, while doling out benefits to high earners.

The House bill includes $662 billion in tax cuts, the Joint Committee on Taxation reported Wednesday. The largest tax cut, at $172 billion over a decade, would repeal a 3.8% tax on investment income of individuals with income over $200,000 and married couples with incomes over $250,000. The bill would make that tax cut retroactive to Jan. 1.

“This morally bankrupt bill will cause incredible pain for hard-working Americans, and that’s why its passage will haunt every single House Republican through Election Day,” said Tyler Law, a spokesman for House Democrats’ campaign arm.

The new CBO report, however, does back up GOP senators who say their legislation would drive down premium costs for many people who buy insurance on the individual market, rather than getting it through work or a government program.

The Republican plan brings down premiums in large part by allowing less-comprehensive health plans, which supporters say provide for more choice and detractors say will force less healthy people to pay more for more robust plans.

The Senate is likely to face a major battle over how to handle the Medicaid program for low-income Americans. Some Republicans have weighed keeping the ACA’s Medicaid expansion but imposing spending cuts on the program.

It is a politically dicey issue because 20 Senate Republicans hail from states that expanded the program under the ACA, and many of them want to protect state residents who benefited from that expansion. Much of the estimated increase in uninsured in the House bill stems from its proposals to cut back on the Medicaid expansion.

Senate Republicans are also looking at making the bill’s tax credits more generous for older people who would see higher premiums under the House version. Some are pushing shorter-term legislation to stabilize the current individual insurance markets under the ACA while they work on repeal, and others are weighing preserving a controversial requirement of the current law that mandates that most people pay a penalty if they don’t have coverage.

The discussions suggest that any Senate bill will largely differ significantly from the legislation passed by the House. That could complicate efforts to get buy-in from conservative House Republicans who almost torpedoed passage of the bill in that chamber, known as the American Health Care Act, arguing that it did not go far enough.

Write to Stephanie Armour at stephanie.armour@wsj.com and Kristina Peterson at kristina.peterson@wsj.com

Appeared in the May. 25, 2017, print edition as ‘Health-Law Tally Sets Up Senate Fight.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/house-gop-health-bill-would-add-23-million-uninsured-cut-119-billion-in-deficit-by-2026-cbo-says-1495658914

Related:

Schumer: Comey Should Still Testify to Congressional Committees

May 18, 2017

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said on Thursday that former FBI Director James Comey should still appear before congressional committees that have invited him to testify in their investigations of Russia and the 2016 U.S. election, despite the appointment of a special counsel.

“While we heartily applaud the appointment of Mr. (former FBI Director Robert) Mueller as a special counsel, we in congress must continue to do our jobs as well,” Schumer said.

(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle Editing by W Simon)

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller Named Special Counsel for Russia Probe

May 18, 2017

Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein cites ‘public interest’ in naming Mr. Mueller

Robert Mueller, right, arriving for a court hearing in San Francisco in April.

Robert Mueller, right, arriving for a court hearing in San Francisco in April. PHOTO: JEFF CHIU/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Former FBI Director Robert Mueller III was appointed Wednesday as special counsel to oversee the federal investigation into Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, giving him wide latitude to explore potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Moscow.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a statement he was naming a special counsel due to the inquiry’s “unique circumstances.” The public interest, he said, “requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.”

Mr. Rosenstein cautioned that his decision wasn’t the result of a “finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted.” He said he has made no such determination.

The appointment, an unusual step, marks a significant new phase in the high-stakes investigation into alleged Russian electoral meddling, which has swept up the Trump administration, bogged down Congress and distracted lawmakers from their agenda.

The Justice Department didn’t specify the parameters of the probe beyond noting that Mr. Mueller would oversee the previously confirmed Federal Bureau of Investigation inquiry into Russia’s role in last year’s election. Russian officials have denied meddling in the race.

In a statement late Wednesday, President Donald Trump said: “There was no collusion between my campaign and any foreign entity. I look forward to this matter concluding quickly.” He didn’t mention the appointment of a special counsel.

Mr. Rosenstein gave the White House very short notice that he was making the appointment.

The naming of Mr. Mueller, who served under presidents of both parties and is widely respected, could make it harder for partisans on either side of the aisle to question the results of the Russia investigation. With few limits on his mandate, Mr. Mueller could conduct a broad, open-ended investigation with no deadline for completion.

Mr. Mueller was the sixth director of the FBI, a position he took one week before the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks and held for 12 years, making him the bureau’s longest-serving director after J. Edgar Hoover.

His appointment as special counsel was announced amid increasing calls in Congress for an independent inquiry into Russia’s alleged meddling in the election and the escalating controversy surrounding Mr. Trump’s firing last week of former FBI Director James Comey, who was spearheading the Russia investigation.

Mr. Mueller could theoretically investigate allegations that Mr. Trump improperly sought to pressure Mr. Comey to back off an investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who resigned in February after giving conflicting statements about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the U.S.

Mr. Comey prepared a memo describing a February meeting with the president in which he wrote that Mr. Trump asked him to “let this go,” referring to the inquiry into Mr. Flynn, according to two people close to the former FBI director.​Mr. Trump has denied asking Mr. Comey to back off the Flynn probe.

The decision to tap a special counsel was striking in part because Mr. Rosenstein had resisted such calls, saying he felt federal prosecutors and FBI agents were independent enough to handle the investigation. Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores declined to comment beyond the news release her office issued Wednesday evening.

Mr. Rosenstein’s thinking on the issue evolved in recent days as he came to conclude that an independent prosecutor was needed to prove to the public that the investigation would be thorough and impartial, according to a person close to the deputy attorney general.

He had been sharply criticized by some who said he may have been trying to quash the investigation by writing a memo that criticized Mr. Comey’s handling of the FBI probe into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server when she served as secretary of state, the person said.

In his memo, Mr. Rosenstein didn’t outright call for Mr. Comey to be fired but said the bureau had lost the trust of the public and Congress under the former director’s tenure.

​He next sought out help from Mr. Mueller, who led the bureau under President George W. Bush and President Barack Obama. Mr. Obama won approval from Congress to extend Mr. Mueller’s 10-year-term an additional two years, through 2013.

In signing the order Wednesday, Mr. Rosenstein relied on a 1999 regulation governing the appointment of a “special counsel” to oversee investigations involving a conflict of interest or extraordinary circumstances.

Mr. Rosenstein had the authority to appoint the special counsel because Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from any aspects of investigations involving the 2016 election following reports he hadn’t disclosed meetings with the Russian ambassador last year. Mr. Rosenstein has been overseeing the investigation ever since.

Mr. Rosenstein will oversee Mr. Mueller’s work and has the power to end his investigation. But the regulations note that Mr. Mueller won’t be “subject to the day-to-day supervision of any official in the department.” If Mr. Rosenstein disagrees with a course of action Mr. Mueller would like to pursue, the deputy attorney general is required to give “great weight” to the special counsel. If Mr. Rosenstein decides to block an action, he is required to provide an explanation to Congress.

The Justice Department has relied on the regulation just once: when Attorney General Janet Reno in 1999 appointed former Sen. John Danforth to investigate the “Branch Davidian” siege near Waco, Texas. Then-Deputy Attorney General James Comey in 2003 appointed Patrick Fitzgerald, then the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, to be a special counsel to oversee the investigation into the leaking of a Central Intelligence Agency operative’s identity. Mr. Comey didn’t rely on the regulation because Mr. Fitzgerald was already a Justice Department prosecutor.

Mr. Mueller has stepped down from his role as partner at the law firm WilmerHale. “I accept this responsibility and will discharge it to the best of my ability,” Mr. Mueller said in a statement Wednesday night.

ROBERT S. MUELLER III

  • 72 years old
  • 1976: Joined U.S. attorney’s office in San Francisco.
  • 1982: Moved to U.S. attorney’s office in Boston; worked on the investigation into the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.
  • 1989: Became assistant to Attorney General Richard Thornburgh, advising him on criminal matters and serving as liaison to the FBI, the DEA, and other federal agencies.
  • 1995: Joined the U.S. attorney’s office, District of Columbia
  • 1998: Became interim U.S. attorney, Northern District of California; later nominated and confirmed as U.S. attorney
  • 2001-2013: Director of the FBI; nominated by President George W. Bush
  • KEY CASES:
  • In charge of the initial investigation into the Boston Marathon bombings
  • After his FBI career, helped manage the litigation against Volkswagen over emissions
  • Oversaw dispersal of restitution money in Takata air-bag case

At the FBI, Mr. Mueller was credited with transforming the agency to take on a greater intelligence gathering role. Mr. Obama eventually nominated Mr. Mueller’s successor, Mr. Comey, who was recently fired by Mr. Trump.

The initial reaction from Capitol Hill to Mr. Mueller’s appointment was largely positive. Some Republicans viewed the appointment with something akin to relief.

Rep. Ryan Costello (R., Pa.) said the appointment removes pressure from Congress since lawmakers have been asked daily for their thoughts on how the investigation should be handled. “It takes it off the table for the time being,” Mr. Costello said.

Mr. Costello also spoke highly of Mr. Mueller. “I think that his record, from what I understand, is unimpeachable in terms of his integrity and experience,” he said.

Democrats agreed. “Former Director Mueller is exactly the right kind of individual for this job,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the chamber’s Democratic leader. “I now have significantly greater confidence that the investigation will follow the facts wherever they lead.”

But not everyone was on board. “I don’t see the need for one,” said Rep. Peter King, a New York Republican. “To me, it’s a bad precedent to set, if any time there’s an investigation of an administration, you have to have a special counsel. These guys go on forever.”

Some Democrats, such as Rep. Nancy Pelosi of California, the House Democratic leader, said they still wanted an independent outside commission to investigate because the Trump administration still would have some influence over Mr. Mueller.

“A special prosecutor is the first step, but it cannot be the last,” Mrs. Pelosi said. “Director Mueller will still be in the chain of command under the Trump-appointed leadership of the Justice Department. He cannot take the place of a truly independent, outside commission that is completely free from the Trump administration’s meddling.”

Mr. Rosenstein’s move came as the White House appeared to be moving closer to selecting an FBI director to succeed Mr. Comey, a position that requires Senate confirmation. The naming of a special counsel could mean the new director has less direct influence over the Russia investigation because that will now be spearheaded by Mr. Mueller, likely with several FBI agents detailed to his operation.

Write to Del Quentin Wilber at del.wilber@wsj.com and Aruna Viswanatha at Aruna.Viswanatha@wsj.com

Appeared in the May. 18, 2017, print edition as ‘Ex-FBI Chief to Lead Russia Probe.’

https://www.wsj.com/articles/former-fbi-director-robert-mueller-named-special-counsel-for-russia-probe-1495058494

Republicans, Democrats demand ‘full explanation’ on Trump sharing secrets with Russia — “This is the most serious charge ever made against a sitting president.”

May 16, 2017

AFP

© Handout photo Russian Foreign Ministry/AFP | (L to R): Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, US President Donald Trump and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak in the Oval Office.

Latest update : 2017-05-16

US President Donald Trump is facing criticism for sharing top secret intelligence with Russian officials during a meeting in the Oval Office last week, prompting both Democrats and Republicans to demand a “full explanation”.

The Washington Post reported Monday that Trump revealed highly classified information on the plans of the Islamic State (IS) group during a May 10 meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russia’s ambassador to the United States, Sergei Kislyak.

Citing unnamed officials, the Post reported that the intelligence included plans by the Islamic State group to threaten airliners in a plot involving laptop computers.

The intelligence originated from a Middle Eastern ally that did not authorise the United States to pass the information on to Russia. The rules of espionage usually allow governments and intelligence agencies to have a significant say in how their information is shared.

By not respecting these protocols, the officials said, Trump’s revelation threatened the cooperation of an ally “that has access to the inner workings of the Islamic State”.

“This is code-word information,” a US official familiar with the matter told the Post, referring to an intelligence classification that ranks even above top secret. Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies”.

One official with knowledge of the Oval Office meeting said Trump told Lavrov of the “great intel” he receives as president. “I have people brief me on great intel every day,” he said.

Such seemingly off-the-cuff revelations could prompt allies and sources in the field to avoid passing sensitive intelligence to the White House in the future, thereby jeopardising US operations and security.

Divulging such information could also place intelligence sources at imminent risk. The source in question, moreover, was not a US informant but one cultivated by an allied nation.

Senior Security Contributor Michael Morell says the source that says Pres. Trump gave classified information to Russians “is now at risk”

While Trump did not reveal how the intelligence was gathered, he did reveal the name of the IS group-controlled city where the threat was detected. From this location Russia could likely identify the US ally who gathered the information or determine which intelligence capabilities were involved, the Post said.

Russia and the United States are both battling the Islamic State group in Syria and do share some information about the jihadists’ moves. But Russian operations in the country are largely aimed at bolstering the forces of President Bashar al-Assad, while the Trump administration launched air strikes on Assad targets following a deadly chemical attack in April and has said Assad should play “no role” in Syria’s future.

Trump’s meeting with the Russian envoys was controversial from the start, as Russian photographers were allowed to take pictures while US media were barred from the Oval Office.

The White House later expressed outrage that photos of the gathering were made public after the Russian embassy posted them on Twitter.

@realDonaldTrump meeting has just started | В Овальном кабинете началась встреча С.Лаврова с Д.Трампом

“They tricked us,” one White House official told CNN, adding: “That’s the problem with the Russians – they lie.”

WH furious over Russian government photos of Trump meeting with Lavrov/Kislyak. “They tricked us,” an official said of Russians “They lie.”

Both the House and Senate intelligence committees, as well as the FBI, continue to investigate the extent of Russian attempts to influence the US presidential election. The meeting with Russian officials came the day after Trump fired the FBI director, James Comey, who was overseeing the bureau investigation.

Ambassador Kislyak has also figured prominently in the allegations of improper contact between Trump associates and Russian officials. Former national security adviser Michael Flynn was forced to resign after not revealing the true nature of his talks last year with Kislyak while Attorney General Jeff Sessions was forced to recuse himself from any Russia investigations after he failed to disclose his meetings with the ambassador while being questioned under oath.

Soon after the talks, senior White House officials appeared to recognise that the discussions had taken a problematic turn, with the Post reporting that a series of calls was made to the CIA and the National Security Agency in what were likely attempts at damage control.

Political aftershocks

National Security Adviser HR McMaster was unequivocal in denying that sources had been compromised, emphasising that Trump had not revealed any “intelligence sources or methods” in his meeting with the Russians. He said that Trump and Lavrov had merely “reviewed a range of common threats to our two countries, including threats to civil aviation”.

“At no time – at no time – were intelligence sources or methods discussed. And the president did not disclose any military operations that were not already publicly known. Two other senior officials who were present, including the secretary of state (Rex Tillerson), remember the meeting the same way and have said so,” McMaster continued.

But despite the denials, the Post report sent shock waves around Washington, with Republicans joining Democrats in calls for a “full explanation” from the White House.

“We have no way to know what was said, but protecting our nation’s secrets is paramount,” said Doug Andres, spokesman for Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan.

“The speaker hopes for a full explanation of the facts from the administration.”

This sentiment was echoed by the top-ranking Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer.

“Revealing classified information at this level is extremely dangerous and puts at risk the lives of Americans and those who gather intelligence for our country,” Schumer said on Twitter.

“The president owes the intelligence community, the American people and Congress a full explanation.”

“To compromise a source is something that you just don’t do,” the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker, told reporters. “That’s why we keep the information that we get from intelligence sources so close, is to prevent that from happening.”

Some legal experts said the allegations involved potentially serious wrongdoing on the part of the president.

“This is the most serious charge ever made against a sitting president of the United States,” said Alan Dershowitz, a prominent US legal expert and former Harvard Law professor, in an interview with CNN on Monday.

.@AlanDersh reacts to WaPo story: “This is the most serious charge ever made against a sitting president”

But others pointed out that the US president has a legal right to declassify information as he sees fit, so Trump’s decision to share intelligence broke no laws.

“The classification system is not based on a law,” said Steven Aftergood, a government secrecy specialist with the Federation of American Scientists, in comments to the New York Times. “It is an expression of presidential authority, and that means that the president and his designees decide what is classified, and they have the essentially unlimited authority to declassify at will.”

Trump himself seized on this justification on Tuesday, tweeting that he had the “absolute right” to share the information.

“As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining … to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism,” he wrote in two tweets.

As President I wanted to share with Russia (at an openly scheduled W.H. meeting) which I have the absolute right to do, facts pertaining….

…to terrorism and airline flight safety. Humanitarian reasons, plus I want Russia to greatly step up their fight against ISIS & terrorism.

Anyone else sharing sensitive intelligence, however, risks losing security clearance and his or her government position. An individual could also face up to 10 years in prison on charges related to the Espionage Act, which makes it a felony to reveal certain information on US national defence to unauthorised sources.

Date created : 2017-05-16

Rosenstein Pressed White House to Correct the Record on Comey Firing

May 11, 2017

Deputy attorney general felt White House description of events was inaccurate; he left impression he couldn’t work in an environment where facts weren’t accurately reported

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has been confirmed by the Senate just weeks ago.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has been confirmed by the Senate just weeks ago. PHOTO: PATRICK SEMANSKY/ASSOCIATED PRESS
.

Updated May 11, 2017 1:58 p.m. ET

WASHINGTON—Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein pressed White House counsel Don McGahn to correct what he felt was an inaccurate White House depiction of the events surrounding FBI Director James Comey’s firing, according to a person familiar with the conversation.

Mr. Rosenstein left the impression that he couldn’t work in an environment where facts weren’t accurately reported, the person said. The deputy attorney general objected to statements by White House aides citing Mr. Rosenstein’s critical assessment of Mr.Comey’s job performance to justify the firing.

Mr. Rosenstein, who had been confirmed by the Senate just two weeks earlier, met with Mr. Trump on Monday, where they discussed Mr. Comey’s job performance. At the White House’s prompting, Mr. Rosenstein Tuesday wrote a memo to the president detailing his concerns about the director’s conduct.

In that letter, Mr. Rosenstein never expressly recommended that Mr. Comey be fired.

Instead, the 12-paragraph letter is deeply critical of Mr. Comey’s handling of an investigation into then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server to conduct public business. Mr. Rosenstein concluded that the FBI had lost the public’s trust and that “the director cannot be expected to implement corrective action.”

The president’s termination letter to Mr. Comey, written on the same day, began by pointing to the memos he had received from the attorney general and deputy attorney general, and offered no further explanation for his decision to fire him.

Mr. Rosenstein grew more distressed when, in television interviews that evening, White House advisers reiterated that the decision was made in response to the Justice Department’s recommendation.

Asked Tuesday why Mr. Trump was firing Mr. Comey four months into his term, senior counselor Kellyanne Conway said: “Well, I would point them to the three letters that were received today.”

Sarah Sanders, a White House spokeswoman, told Fox News on Tuesday that Mr. Trump had reacted after receiving a “clear and direct and very strong recommendation from the deputy attorney general.”

Why Trump Decided to Fire Comey Now
President Donald Trump sent Washington into a frenzy on Tuesday evening when he fired FBI Director James Comey, citing criticism of his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. WSJ’s Gerald F. Seib looks at the timing of Mr. Trump’s decision. Photo: Getty
.

Ms. Sanders, on MSNBC the following morning, said the reason for the dismissal was “real simple … The deputy attorney general made a very strong recommendation.”

Wednesday morning, Vice President Mike Pence, speaking to reporters at the Capitol, repeatedly pointed to Mr. Rosenstein’s letter while describing the president’s decision.

Mr. Rosenstein called Mr. McGahn and urged them to correct the record.

In a Wednesday afternoon news briefing, Ms. Sanders started to shift the White House narrative.

Asked about the tipping point in Mr. Trump’s decision to dismiss Mr. Comey, she responded: “He’d lost confidence in Director Comey, and, frankly, he’d been considering letting Director Comey go since the day he was elected.”

Asked if Mr. Trump had directed Mr. Rosenstein to write a recommendation that Mr. Comey be fired, she said, “No.”

Later that evening, the White House circulated a timeline of events leading up to Mr. Comey’s dismissal that had been authored by the Justice Department.

The timeline didn’t mention Mr. Rosenstein’s letter until the fourth bullet point, and said Mr. Trump had been “strongly inclined” to remove Mr. Comey after watching his testimony in front of a Senate panel last week.

Subsequently, administration officials said Mr. Trump had been growing increasingly frustrated by the former director’s demonstrative performances in a series of congressional hearings, combined with his refusal to clear Mr. Trump’s campaign of any wrongdoing, put the president over the edge.

By the time Mr. Comey testified last week before a Senate panel about his handling of the Clinton email probe, saying he would make the same choices again even though it made him “mildly nauseous” to think he might have affected the election result, Mr. Trump was “strongly inclined to remove him,” a White House official said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) Thursday demanded further explanation for the firing of Mr. Comey. He said on the Senate floor that he would soon be sending Mr. Rosenstein a letter with a list of questions the lawmaker said he wanted to be answered publicly.

Mr. Rosenstein won the backing of most Senate Democrats when he was confirmed to his position late last month in an overwhelming 94-6 vote.

Mr. Schumer said Thursday that Democrats voted for Mr. Rosenstein “because he had a reputation for integrity” and assured them that he would act independently at the Justice Department.

“The events of the last week have made many of us question that belief,” Mr. Schumer said.

Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, who succeeded Mr. Comey, also contradicted a White House assertion that the bureau had lost confidence in James Comey’s leadership. “The vast majority of FBI staff enjoyed a deep, positive connection to Director Comey,” Mr. McCabe said.

Justice Department spokesman Ian Prior Thursday denied reports that Mr. Rosenstein had threatened to quit over the White House depiction of the events leading up to Mr. Comey’s dismissal. He declined to comment further.

A White House spokesman didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) offered a withering assessment of the Rosenstein memo and urged that he recuse himself from the FBI’s probe into whether there were ties between the Trump campaign and Russian meddling in last year’s presidential race.

“I’ve now read Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s memo three times. With each read I’ve become more troubled by the contents of this unusual document,” she said.

Rather than a dispassionate analysis, she said, the “memo reads like political document. It includes quotes from op-eds and television appearances that are as old as six months. It doesn’t include any contemporary insights from inside the FBI. The memo appears to have been hastily assembled to justify a preordained outcome.”

Republicans focused on a different angle Thursday as Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, urged the FBI to say publicly whether it was investigating Mr. Trump. That question has resurfaced because in his brief letter firing Mr. Comey, Mr. Trump said that “I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation.”

Those close to Mr. Comey disputed that the director had provided such assurances. Mr. McCabe, the acting FBI director, promised a Senate Committee Thursday that he wouldn’t provide status updates to the White House on the Russia probe.

But Mr. Grassley said the FBI should clarify the matter. “It should confirm to the public whether it is or is not investigating the president,” he said. “Because it has failed to make this clear, speculation has run rampant.”

One of Russia’s goals, Mr. Grassley said, is to undermine Americans’ faith in U.S. institutions, and the FBI’s silence plays into that objective.

The FBI has given no indication it would be willing to make such a statement.

Write to Del Quentin Wilber at del.wilber@wsj.com, Aruna Viswanatha at Aruna.Viswanatha@wsj.com and Rebecca Ballhaus at Rebecca.Ballhaus@wsj.com

.

Trump assails Sen. Schumer for remarks on Comey — “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer stated recently, ‘I do not have confidence in him (James Comey) any longer.’ Then acts so indignant.”

May 10, 2017

FILE- In this May 3, 2017, file photo, FBI Director James Comey listens on Capitol Hill in Washington. President Donald Trump has fired Comey. In a statement on Tuesday, May 9, Trump says Comey’s firing “will mark a new beginning” for the FBI. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File)

The Latest on the firing of FBI Director James Comey (all times local):

12:50 a.m.

President Donald Trump is criticizing Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer for comments the New York Democrat made in response to the firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Schumer said Tuesday evening that he told Trump in a phone conversation 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.”

Trump fired back later on his Twitter account, saying: “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer stated recently, ‘I do not have confidence in him (James Comey) any longer.’ Then acts so indignant.”

Image result for comey, taking oath, photos

PHOTO: FBI Director James Comey testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, May 3, 2017, before the Senate Judiciary Committee

———

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

———

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.  Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

11 p.m.

A former top Justice Department official whose criticism of FBI Director James Comey was used to support his ouster is calling the justification “a sham.”

President Donald Trump said he based Comey’s firing on a memo by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein that slammed Comey’s handling of the Hillary Clinton email probe. Rosenstein cited former Deputy Attorney General Donald Ayer as saying he agreed it was inappropriate.

Ayer told The Associated Press he thinks the explanation for Comey’s firing is a “sham.” Trump had supported “the most incorrect things that Comey did,” such as speaking out about the closed probe and announcing it was being reopened just days before the election.

Ayer says Rosenstein “should realize that his correct assessment of those mistakes is now being used to justify firing for a very different reason.”

———

9:15 p.m.

Aides to President Donald Trump are defending his decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, saying it was needed to restore confidence in the agency, not about any ongoing investigations.

Counsel to the president Kellyanne Conway says in an interview with CNN, “It’s not a cover-up,” and says it “had nothing to do with Russia.”

Conway says Trump took the recommendation of the attorney general’s office that it was time for “fresh leadership.” She adds, “This is what leaders do. They take decisive action.”

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders says in an interview with Fox that Comey had lost the confidence of rank-and-file members of the FBI and members of Congress.

———

9:10 p.m.

Newly fired FBI director James Comey is about to leave Los Angeles on a plane to return to Washington.

Authorities say Comey’s motorcade left from a federal building and headed to Los Angeles International Airport. Comey appeared to step out of one of the cars and on to a small private plane at about 5:45 p.m. PDT Tuesday.

Comey had been scheduled to speak at an FBI recruiting event in Hollywood at about the same time, but was fired by President Donald Trump a few hours earlier.

Comey’s departure from the federal building fueled speculation that he might still appear at the event, but FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said he would not be there.

His motorcade instead headed in the opposite direction toward the airport, with several news helicopters hovered above as he crept along the freeway.

———

8 p.m.

The Senate Republican leading the investigation into potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign says he’s “troubled by the timing and reasoning” behind President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.

Sen. Richard Burr, who chairs the Intelligence committee, said he found Comey to a public servant of the highest order, and his dismissal “further confuses an already difficult investigation” by his panel.

Burr said Comey was the most forthcoming with information of any FBI director that Burr could recall.

The North Carolina senator called Comey’s firing “a loss for the bureau and the nation.”

———

7:35 p.m.

The head of a professional association of FBI agents says a change in leadership at the law enforcement agency should be handled carefully.

FBI Agents Association President Thomas O’Connor says the change should be made with an eye toward ensuring the agency can “continue to fulfill its responsibility to protect the American public from criminal and national security threats.”

He says agents want a voice in the selection process.

The organization says it appreciated Comey’s service and leadership. O’Connor says the fired FBI director “understood the centrality of the agent to the bureau’s mission” and knew agents risk their lives daily.

O’Connor says Comey ensured the FBI’s investigations were constitutional and that agents “performed their mission with integrity and professionalism.”

———

7:30 p.m.

A White House official says President Donald Trump’s former bodyguard and director of Oval Office operations hand-delivered the White House’s letter to the FBI terminating FBI director James Comey.

The White House official says Keith Schiller delivered the letters from the president and top Justice Department officials. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to describe Schiller’s activities.

Video of Schiller outside FBI headquarters was aired by CNN. Comey was traveling to an event in Los Angeles at the time.

Schiller is a former detective with the New York Police Department who worked for Trump’s security team for nearly two decades before joining the administration.

— Contributed by Ken Thomas.

———

7:25 p.m.

Republican John McCain says Congress must form a special committee to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election following President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey.

The Arizona senator said he has long called for a special congressional committee to investigate Russian interference in the election and said Trump’s decision to remove Comey “only confirms the need and the urgency of such a committee.”

McCain said he was disappointed in Trump’s decision, calling Comey a man of honor and integrity who led the FBI well in extraordinary circumstances.

Republican Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee said Comey’s dismissal “will raise questions” and said “it is essential that ongoing investigations are free of political interference until their completion.”

He said Trump must nominate a well-respected person to replace Comey.

———

7:25 p.m.

The top Democrat in the Senate says he told Donald Trump “you are making a big mistake” when the president called to inform him that he was firing FBI Director James Comey.

New York Sen. Chuck Schumer told reporters Tuesday night that he received a call from the president.

Schumer questioned why the firing occurred on Tuesday and wondered whether investigations into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia were “getting too close to home for the president.”

He called on the deputy attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor.

Said Schumer: “This investigation must be run as far away as possible” from the president.

———

7:20 p.m.

The vice chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee called President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey “shocking” and deeply troubling.

Sen. Mark Warner said it’s especially so because it comes during an active FBI investigation into possible improper contacts between Trump’s campaign and Russia.

The Virginia Democrat is helping lead a Senate investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. He says Comey’s firing comes after he dismissed acting Attorney General Sally Yates and nearly every U.S. attorney.

Warner said Trump’s actions “make it clear to me that a special counsel also must be appointed” to investigate the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. He said an independent investigation is the only way the American people will be able to trust the results of an investigation.

———

7:05 p.m.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says former Justice Department officials agree FBI Director James Comey mishandled the Hillary Clinton email investigation.

Rosenstein says the FBI is “unlikely to regain public and congressional trust until it has a director who understands the gravity of the mistakes” and promises not to repeat them. He made the comments in a memo titled “Restoring Public Confidence in the FBI.”

Rosenstein says Comey has refused to acknowledge his errors and “cannot be expected to implement necessary corrective actions.”

President Donald Trump says he fired Comey Tuesday based in part on Rosenstein’s memo.

———

7:05 p.m.

More Democrats are renewing calls for a special prosecutor following President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey amid a complex counterintelligence investigation into Trump’s campaigns’ possible ties with Russia.

Massachusetts Sen. Edward Markey and Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey say the dismissal is reminiscent of the Watergate scandal and the national turmoil during that time.

Maryland Rep. Elijah Cummings says Congress needs to have immediate emergency hearings. Cummings says Comey was the one independent person to investigate Trump and his campaign’s possible coordination with Russia.

———

7:05 p.m.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says FBI Director James Comey’s public announcement that Hillary Clinton should not face criminal charges over her emails was a “textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do.”

Rosenstein says in a Tuesday memo that Comey was wrong to announce his own conclusions about “the nation’s most sensitive criminal investigation” without approval from Justice Department leaders.

He says federal prosecutors should have made a decision on whether to charge Clinton.

Comey has defended his announcement on reopening of the probe just before Election Day, saying “concealing” it from Congress would have been worse. But Rosenstein says that’s a loaded term and “silence is not concealment.”

He says federal agents have a policy of not speaking publicly.

———

7:05 p.m.

A former top aide to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign says President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey is “related to Russia, not related to Clinton.”

Clinton’s spokesman during her 2016 presidential bid, Brian Fallon, said Tuesday that “the timing and manner of this firing suggests that it is the product of Donald Trump feeling the heat on the ongoing Russia investigation, and not a well-thought-out response to the inappropriate handling of the Clinton investigation.”

In announcing the firing, the White House circulated a memo written by deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, criticizing Comey’s handling of an investigation into Clinton’s email practices.

Fallon said the administration is “falsely citing the very thing that propelled him to the presidency as a convenient excuse” for firing someone “conducting an aggressive investigation into his campaign’s connections to the Russian government.”

———

7 p.m.

Two Democratic senators are criticizing President Donald Trump’s decision to fire the FBI director in the middle of an investigation into the president’s associates’ ties with Russia.

Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden says Trump’s decision is “outrageous.” Wyden says FBI Director James Comey should be immediately called to testify about the status of the Russia investigation.

Rhode Island Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse says the timing of Comey’s firing “raises massive questions.”

Both Wyden and Whitehouse are members of Senate committees that are doing their own investigations into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia.

———

6:50 p.m.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein says FBI Director James Comey was wrong to announce his conclusion that the investigation into whether Hillary Clinton mishandled classified information should be closed without criminal charges.

Rosenstein says in a memo that Comey usurped the authority of then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch by announcing his findings. Comey was fired Tuesday.

Rosenstein says Comey should have said the FBI had completed its investigation, then presented its findings to prosecutors.

Rosenstein says Comey instead held a news conference “to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation.” Comey had said Clinton should not be charged but criticized her work habits.

Rosenstein says Comey “laid out his version of the facts for the news media as if it were a closing argument, but without trial.”

———

6:40 p.m.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles Grassley says dismissed FBI Director James Comey had lost the “public trust and confidence.”

President Donald Trump abruptly fired Comey Tuesday. Grassley said Comey’s decisions on controversial matters “have prompted concern from across the political spectrum” and from career law enforcement experts.

Grassley criticized Comey’s investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s email practices, saying the FBI was slow to answer questions from his committee.

Grassley said: “The effectiveness of the FBI depends upon the public trust and confidence. Unfortunately, this has clearly been lost.”

———

6:35 p.m.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions says James Comey was fired from his post as FBI director because the law enforcement agency needs a “fresh start.”

In a letter addressed to President Donald Trump and released by the White House, Sessions says the FBI director must be someone who follows “faithfully the rules and principles” of the Justice Department. Sessions also says the individual must be someone who “sets the right example” for law enforcement officials and others in the department.

Session did not go into detail in the one-page letter dated Tuesday in which he recommended to Trump that Comey be removed as FBI director.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer announced Tuesday that Trump had fired Comey.

Spicer says the search for a new FBI director was beginning immediately.

———

6:30 p.m.

Democrats are insisting on an independent prosecutor to investigate possible links between the Trump campaign and Russia following FBI Director James Comey’s firing.

Sen. Kamala Harris of California tweets: “I’ve said it before and will again — we must have a special prosecutor to oversee the FBI’s Russia investigation. This cannot wait.”

Rep. Steve Cohen of Tennessee said “our democracy is in danger,” and he pressed Speaker Paul Ryan to appoint a bipartisan commission to investigate the Trump-Russia relationship.

Sen. Dick Durbin, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, stood on the Senate floor and said he would await word from the White House on whether the investigation will continue.

Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania called on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel.

———

6:20 p.m.

President Donald Trump called at least two members of the Senate Judiciary Committee minutes before the White House announced the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Democratic Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California both said they received calls from Trump. Graham is heading the panel’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and Feinstein is the top Democrat on the committee.

Neither senator criticized the decision. Graham was supportive, saying that “given the recent controversies surrounding the director, I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well.”

Feinstein said Trump told her the FBI needed a change, and that the next director “must be strong and independent.”

———

5:46 p.m.

President Donald Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey Tuesday, ousting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the midst of an investigation into whether Trump’s campaign had ties to Russia’s election meddling.

In a letter to Comey, Trump said the firing was necessary to restore “public trust and confidence” in the FBI. Comey has come under intense scrutiny in recent months for his role in an investigation into Democrat Hillary Clinton’s email practices, including a pair of letters he sent to Congress on the matter in the closing days of last year’s election.

Trump made no mention of Comey’s role in the Clinton investigation. But the president did assert that Comey informed him “on three separate occasions that I am not under investigation.”