South Carolina Sens. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott brushed aside calls for an independent investigation into connections between Donald Trump’s campaign and Moscow after the president fired the FBI director, who was leading the main government probe into Russian interference in 2016.
“Regardless of what they are saying today, Democrats have continually called for Director (James) Comey to be fired over the past six months. Multiple federal entities are currently and independently conducting Russia investigations, including the Senate Intelligence Committee,” Scott said by email.
After Trump fired Comey on Tuesday, Democrats immediately called for an independent investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. presidential election. Some even likened Trump’s move against Comey to President Richard Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” of 1973, when he fired Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal.
Graham dismissed those comparisons Wednesday morning on MSNBC’s "Morning Joe."
“You've gotta remember this is not Watergate. I don't remember the Democratic leader calling for Archibald Cox to be fired and you've got the Democratic leader calling this guy to be fired. So I think we need a new face and a new guy or a new gal and move on,” Graham said. "But you've gotta understand that Democrats have called for this guy to be dismissed for months. Now all of a sudden, he's been dismissed — this gives hypocrisy a bad name."
Early Wednesday, Scott told reporters that he was still gathering information about Comey’s dismissal, but hinted that Trump’s decision and timing may not have been the best.
“The timing is interesting and one that I’ll learn more about….” Scott told reporters. “But at the end of the day before passing judgement, I want to understand and appreciate the sequence of events that occurred. But I find it to be a little bit poor in timing. The timing is, it’s, I don’t want to use the word ‘concerning’ but it’s certainly puzzling.”
At the time, Scott stopped short of saying he’d support a special prosecutor. He later threw his support behind the FBI and the Senate Intelligence Committee.
“Chairman (Richard) Burr and Ranking Member (Mark) Warner have repeatedly demonstrated they are working together to uncover all of the facts, and I have no reason to believe they won’t. I also do not believe that the director’s dismissal will affect how the FBI carries out its investigations, and I have full confidence in the brave men and women serving our nation every day at the FBI,” Scott said by email.
Graham also shared Scott’s faith in the futures of the Russian investigations already underway.
“You know why I’m not concerned? Because I know the FBI is made up of people who will do their job. I know our Senate is gonna move forward. I know our system is bigger than Mr. Comey. So no, I don't believe firing James Comey is a get-out-of-jail-free card for the Trump campaign,” Graham told MSNBC hosts.
Lindsay Wise contributed to this report.