Comey fallout: Republican leadership rejects calls for special prosecutor over Trump ties to Russia

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell arrives at the US Capitol in Washington, DCREUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has rejected calls for a special prosecutor to investigate Trump team ties to Russia, saying on the Senate floor on Wednesday that it would "only serve to impede the current work being done".

Confusion has reigned throughout Congress since President Donald Trump's unexpected and unceremonious firing of FBI Director James Comey – with even leading Republicans now saying they are "troubled" by the timing.

Republican Senator for Arizona, Jeff Flake, not usually one to rock the boat, tweeted on Tuesday night: "I've spent the last several hours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of Comey's firing. I just can't do it."

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His Arizona colleague, John McCain, did not go as far as a special prosecutor but did reiterate calls for a "special congressional committee to investigate Russia's interference in the 2016 election.

"The president's decision to remove the FBI Director only confirms the need and the urgency of such a committee," McCain said in a statement.

The talk of a special prosecutor, though suggested at for some time, came strongly in the wake of Comey's dismissal. Senate minority leader, Chuck Schumer, the leading Democrat, said that the time for an independent investigation was "right now".

"This is part of a deeply troubling pattern from the Trump administration. They fired Sally Yates. They fired Preet Bharara. And now they've fired Director Comey, the very man leading the investigation," he told reporters. "This does not seem to be a coincidence.

"This investigation must be run as far away as possible from this White House and as far away as possible from anyone that President Trump has appointed."

Vice President Mike Pence backed Trump's decision, saying the president had "made the right decision at the right time".

As statements and comments from politicans across the divide poured in on Tuesday night, the most surprising came from Senator Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina and chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee – the committe currently investigating Russian interference in the election which saw Trump take power.

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'You are making a big a mistake' Chuck Schumer tells Trump over firing FBI director James ComeyReuters

"I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey's termination," Burr said, adding that the firing "confuses an already difficult investigation by the Committee." Burr said that he had found Comey to be "forthcoming" and "straightforward with our committee."

The incident and subsequent fall-out has seemingly rocked Trump too. The president took to Twitter ten times on Wednesday morning to attempt to push blame onto Democrats and retweet the right-wing newsletter, Drudge Report.

"The 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 said.

Though the House of Representatives is not currently in session, one of the more independent Republican members, Justin Amash, known for his membership of the conservative House Freedom Caucus and flip-flop over the heathcare bill, said he and his staff "are reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia."

In the second paragraph of Trump's letter firing Comey, he takes the moment to say he appreciates Comey telling him "on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation". Amash said that he thought the paragraph was "bizarre".

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