Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., on Tuesday called the firing of FBI Director James Comey a "very big mistake" that may "rightly" raise suspicions President Donald Trump's decision "was part of a coverup."
Amid the FBI and congressional probes of Russian involvement in the 2016 election, Schumer said the decision, and whether it was to benefit the Trump campaign, now demands a special prosecutor be appointed.
"The American people need to have faith that an investigation as serious as this one is being conducted impartially without a shred of bias," he said of the probes.
"If Deputy Attorney General [Rod] Rosenstein does not appoint an independent special prosecutor, every American will rightly suspect that the decision to fire director Comey was part of a cover-up."
Schumer said the decision is already suspect.
"The first question the administration has to answer is 'Why now?' If the administration had objections to the way director Comey handled the [Hillary] Clinton investigation, they had those objections the minute the president got into office, but they didn't fire him then."
"Why did it happen today?" he continued. "We know the House is investigating Russian interference in our elections that benefited the Trump campaign. We know the Senate is investigating. We know the FBI has been looking into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russians, a very serious offense.
"Were these investigations getting too close to home for the president?"
Schumer said he conveyed his concerns to Trump.
"I simply said to him, 'Mr. President, in all due respect, you're making a very big mistake' and he didn't really answer," Schumer said. "And I have said from the get-go that I think a special prosecutor is the way to go. But now with what's happened, it is the only way to go – only way to go to restore the American people's faith.
"Are people going to suspect cover-up? Absolutely. If an independent special prosecutor is appointed, there still can be some faith that we can get to the bottom of this. If not, everyone will suspect cover-up."
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