The Senate’s top Democrat told President Trump he was “making a big mistake” by firing FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, and said the move undermines faith in the presidency.
Sen. Charles E. Schumer said the president called to inform him of the decision earlier in the afternoon.
“I told the president, Mr. President, with all due respect, you are making a big mistake,” the New York Democrat said.
He questioned the administration’s logic for the firing, saying that concerns about the way Mr. Comey handled last year’s election have been around for months.
“Why now?” Mr. Schumer said. “Were these investigations getting too close to home to the president?”
Mr. Comey had been leading a probe into Trump campaign operatives’ dealings with Russia.
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The firing put all sides in a tough position. Many Democrats, including Mr. Schumer, had been critical of Mr. Comey for his handling of last year’s election, when he held a press conference during the summer to detail his findings in his probe into Hillary Clinton’s use of a secret email account — then reopened and quickly closed the probe in the final days of the campaign.
Mr. Schumer acknowledged his criticism but said he’d never called for Mr. Trump to fire Mr. Comey. And Mr. Schumer said that if the election was bothering the president, he should have acted months ago to oust the director.
Now, Mr. Schumer said, anyone Mr. Trump nominates to take over at the FBI will be tainted.
“This investigation must be run as far away as possible from this White House and as far away as possible from anyone Mr. Trump has appointed,” the senator said.