The Senate Intelligence Committee had its first chance on Thursday to question the acting director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) in the wake of President Donald Trump’s decision to fire James Comey. Andrew McCabe became acting director after Trump fired Comey on Tuesday. He is filling Comey’s shoes at the previously scheduled hearing, which was supposed to discuss “worldwide threats” but took on new significance after Comey’s firing. The chairman of the committee, Sen. Richard Burr asked the panel, which includes other top intelligence chiefs, to focus on the original topic of the hearing.
Sen. Mark Warner, the top Democrat on the committee, said that would be difficult to do. “The timing of director Comey’s dismissal to me and many members of the committee on both sides of the aisle is especially troubling,” Warner said. McCabe told the committee that he could not comment after being asked about conversations Comey had with Trump. The question referred to Trump’s statement Tuesday in his letter dismissing Comey that he “greatly appreciate” Comey informing him that he is not under investigation.
Despite attempts by Republicans on the committee to stick to the broader questions about threats to U.S. security, Democrats on the committee are largely questioning McCabe and other top officials about investigations into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. The White House justified the firing of Comey based on his handling of the Hillary Clinton email affair. However, opposition Democrats suspects said it was because the FBI was advancing its investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
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