WASHINGTON – As President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey continues to rock the Capitol, Sen. Amy Klobuchar anticipates the Senate Judiciary Committee will play an important role in the aftermath.
The panel is charged with confirming Comey’s successor, whom Trump told reporters could be named in a “fast decision” this week.
Klobuchar and Sen. Al Franken both sit on the Judiciary Committee, which recently heard testimony from Comey regarding the FBI’s probe into Russia’s ties to Trump’s presidential campaign. They and other Democrats have called for a special prosecutor to lead an independent investigation.
Klobuchar said she knew Comey when they were students in the University of Chicago Law School Class of 1985 and recalled that he had the respect of their classmates. They served on the law review and Klobuchar still has a picture of Comey from a Cubs game.
She said they've kept in touch over the years, as she served as Hennepin County attorney and followed Comey's lead on policies for felons in possession of guns while he was assistant U.S. Attorney in Richmond, Va.
Klobuchar noted that she disagreed with how Comey handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, but never thought he should be fired. As a former prosecutor, Klobuchar questioned whether Americans wanted a system where someone could be fired for conducting an investigation.
“I really think this is a turning point for the criminal justice system,” she said.
A number of people are under consideration to replace Comey, including FBI director Andrew McCabe, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), former Justice Department Criminal Division Chief Alice Fisher and New York state judge and former U.S. Attorney in Manhattan Michael Garcia.
Klobuchar said the Senate Judiciary Committee wants to ensure the nominee will be insulated from political pressure.
“The key [is], will they feel that they are loyal to the law or loyal to the president?” she said.
A judiciary panel subcommittee headed by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is investigating Russia's efforts to interfere with American elections, as is the Senate Intelligence Committee. Klobuchar described the judiciary committee's oversight as especially important because it's more in the public eye, compared to the classified work of the intelligence panel.
She added: “The Judiciary Committee is going to continue to be very active here.”