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Rep. Tom Cole: Comey’s Dismissal Was Warranted

J. Scott Applewhite
U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., attends an organizational meeting of the House Rules Committee, January 7, 2015.

An Oklahoma congressman says he agrees with President Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey.

Republican Rep. Tom Cole criticized Comey for his handling last summer of the investigation into Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s emails.

“No question in my mind James Comey’s an honorable person and has spent many, many years in public service. But he had become a lightning rod in a manner which was beginning to lead people to mistrust the FBI,” Cole said.

Cole took issue with Comey’s announcement last summer that no charges would be brought against Clinton, and for proclaiming two weeks before the election that the investigation would be reopened.

“Those things are best done in private, and a simple announcement of we’re prosecuting or we’re not prosecuting, or a case like the October surprise, so to speak, it never should have been mentioned at all, one way or the other,” Cole said.

Cole’s argument echoes that of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein,who recommended Trump fire Comey.

Cole says the firing shouldn’t  change the FBI’s ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russian hacking during the 2016 presidential election.

“I think at the end day, it’s not as if Comey is doing the actual investigation. He’s supervising it. But the actual investigations are being done by career professionals at the FBI. So I think they’ll be the ones that actually call the shots,” Cole said.

Cole does not believe there should not be a special prosecutor to investigate Russian hacking scandal.

Cole says he has confidence in the new acting FBI director, Andrew McCabe. McCabe is a 20 year veteran of the FBI who Comey appointed as deputy FBI director in January 2016.

Last year, McCabe’s wife ran as a Democrat for a Virginia state senate seat, and received large donations from Clinton allies and donors. Cole does not believe McCabe’s wife’s political activity would impede the ongoing Russia probe.

“You would have to show me some reason he would be unfair or some evidence of it in the past,” Cole said. “I don’t think that you get rid of people simply because their spouse happened to engage in the perfectly legitimate activity of running for public office.”

Cole says he hopes Trumps can nominate a new FBI director with unquestioned integrity who both Republicans and Democrats can trust.

“I think it’s better to put this particular chapter behind and hopefully find somebody who is universally respected for being professional and for being above suspicion and that will operate the FBI in a totally non-partisan way,” Cole said.

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Jacob McCleland spent nine years as a reporter and host at public radio station KRCU in Cape Girardeau, Mo. His stories have appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition and All Things Considered, Here & Now, Harvest Public Media and PRI’s The World. Jacob has reported on floods, disappearing languages, crop duster pilots, anvil shooters, Manuel Noriega, mule jumps and more.
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