Live

Watch CBSN Live

Democrats compare Trump's firing of Comey to Nixon and Watergate

Comey firing details

Some Democrats compared President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey Tuesday to former President Richard Nixon's firing of the independent special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal.  The firing, according to White House documents, stemmed from Comey's missteps in handling the Hillary Clinton email investigation, but it's another FBI investigation that's drawing the attention in the wake of the FBI director's firing.

Democrats who had criticized Comey for making public announcements about the Clinton email investigation in the days leading up to the election, came to his defense Tuesday night, assailing Mr. Trump for firing the man whose agency is investigating any ties between Trump associates and Russia's alleged interference in the 2016 election. 

Mr. Trump's termination letter to Comey contained a curious allusion to the FBI's Russian meddling probe. In the second paragraph, Mr. Trump wrote, "While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau." 

"This is Nixonian," Pennsylvania Democratic Sen. Bob Casey declared in a statement. "Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein must immediately appoint a special counsel to continue the Trump/Russia investigation."

Casey's statement went on to point out that on Mar. 20, Comey had confirmed during a House Intelligence Committee hearing that the FBI was investigating the Russian government's meddling in the 2016 presidential election. This included "'the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia's efforts,'" Casey wrote, quoting Comey's remarks. 

Nixon famously fired special prosecutor Archibald Cox in what became known as the Saturday Night Massacre, resulting in the resignations of his attorney general and deputy attorney general.  

New Mexico Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich echoed the sentiment, saying that Mr. Trump's action "smacks" of the Watergate era.

Other Democrats immediately began demanding more information about the latest updates on the FBI's Russia investigation.

Washington Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden a longtime critic of Comey, said the now-former FBI director should have the chance to testify immediately. 

Virginia Democratic Sen. Mark Warner told CNN the timing of the firing, shortly before Comey was set to testify before Congress Thursday, and after former acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified before Congress "sure seems awfully curious."

Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in a press conference Tuesday night said the timing of the firing -- during the Russia investigation -- "does not seem to be a coincidence."

Clinton's 2016 campaign manager Robby Mook, a frequent critic of Comey, was taken aback by his firing.

Clinton, who has placed a portion of the blame for her loss on Comey, has not commented on his firing. But the Nixon Library weighed in on the Nixonian question, tweeting this: