U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher of Green Bay has become one of the Capitol Hill Republicans questioning President Donald Trump’s abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey, while House Speaker Paul Ryan said Trump did “what a president can and should do” when he’s not confident in an official.
Other Republicans in Wisconsin’s congressional delegation — Reps. Sean Duffy of Wausau, Glenn Grothman of Glenbeulah and James Sensenbrenner of Menomonee Falls — were silent on the move Wednesday.
The firing of Comey, who had been overseeing an investigation into whether Trump’s inner circle worked with Russia to influence the outcome of the 2016 U.S. election, was announced late Tuesday.
U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh, chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, issued a one-sentence statement late Tuesday thanking Comey for his service.
Appearing Wednesday on Fox News’ “Special Report with Bret Baier,” Ryan, R-Janesville, said Comey is “a worthwhile and dedicated public servant” who lost the confidence of both Republicans and Democrats “based upon his conduct, his actions, and some of the comments that he made.”
“Most importantly, he lost the confidence of the president, and it is entirely within the president’s role and authority to relieve him, and that’s what he did,” Ryan said.
Wisconsin Democrats, including Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, and Reps. Mark Pocan, D-Black Earth, and Ron Kind, D-La Crosse, ripped Comey’s firing as an affront to the rule of law. Baldwin and Pocan said that, in Comey’s absence, a special prosecutor should be named to independently investigate Russian meddling in the last election.
Pocan, in a press call with national reporters, even suggested Democrats may ultimately push for Trump’s impeachment, according to a report from The Hill. Such a move would find little support in the current U.S. House, which is controlled by Republicans.
In a series of tweets early Wednesday, Gallagher said he has “serious concerns and unanswered questions about the timing of Director Comey’s dismissal.”
“It is imperative that both congressional and FBI investigations into Russian interference in our country continue unimpeded and unaltered,” Gallagher said in another tweet.
On Wednesday, The New York Times reported Comey, days before his dismissal, asked the Justice Department for “additional resources” to investigate Russian interference in the presidential election. That report was sourced to four congressional officials, including Democratic Sen. Richard Durbin of Illinois.
In addition to the FBI investigation, congressional committees are probing Russian efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. election.
Gallagher said it’s imperative that the next FBI director be “fearless, strong and independent.”
“The next steps from the president, the Department of Justice, and the attorney general will say a great deal,” Gallagher said.
Gallagher is a first-year congressman but has a deep resume in foreign relations and intelligence issues. He’s a U.S. Marine Corps veteran of the Iraq War, during which time he worked as a counterintelligence officer, and he went on to work in the U.S. intelligence community, including for the National Counterterrorism Center.