Republicans in Congress control the fate of the FBI's Russia investigation now that President Trump fired Director James Comey. Because they hold a majority, Republicans have the power to approve or reject Trump's new pick for a replacement, who may or may not continue the FBI's investigation into whether Trump campaign associates colluded with Russia during the campaign.
Congress also has the power to set up an outside investigation that's not immediately answerable to federal lawmakers or Trump. Democrats are pushing for this option, but they can't make it happen without Republican support.
A number of Senate and House Republicans don't like that Trump fired Comey, but only a handful have said they'd support an independent inquiry, which would take an act of Congress to set up.
Here’s how Republican senators are positioning themselves about the Russia investigation in the wake of Comey's sudden firing. We've ranked all the GOP senators' positions on the firing and included any House GOP members who are calling for some form of an independent investigation. We’ll update this list as more lawmakers announce their positions. If you have an update to share, email us.
Where GOP legislators stand:
For an independent investigation 5
These GOP senators are calling for or have expressed openness to set up some kind of independent investigation, whether it be a special prosecutor, a special commission or a dedicated committee in Congress
After Trump fired the FBI director, Collins indicated she agreed with it:"The president did not fire the entire FBI. He fired the director of the FBI. And any suggestion that this is somehow going to stop the FBI’s investigation of the attempts by the Russians to influence the elections last fall is really patently absurd," she told reporters. But on May 17, she told NPR that a series of stories about Trump's conduct with the Russians and with now-fired FBI director James Comey has her thinking that perhaps there should be a special prosecutor. She says the deputy attorney general should look into appointing one. Read more »
Graham was one of the first GOP senators to offer his support for Comey's firing: "Given the recent controversies surrounding the director, I believe a fresh start will serve the FBI and the nation well," he said in a statement. And while Graham has said in the past that a special prosecutor would be necessary for a criminal matter, he doesn't believe that applies here. "It's counterintelligence, not criminal," he said on Fox News on May 10 of the investigations into whether Trump's campaign colluded with Russian operatives. "If it ever becomes a criminal investigation, then we'll talk about a special prosecutor. You don't need a special prosecutor for counterintelligence. His office did say he supports a special committee dedicated to investigating Russia meddling in the U.S. election: "versus having a number of committees investigate their jurisdictions." Read more »
"I'm uncomfortable with the timing of all this, and that's why I think an independent prosecutor should be on the table if in fact the select committee in the Senate and the House cannot get to answers," Heller told reporters in Las Vegas on May 12. Heller had previously said that "Director Comey's dismissal comes as a surprise. Our country is facing extraordinary times coupled with extraordinary events, and there is nothing more important than getting to the bottom of Russia's attempt to interfere with our elections. I'm committed to protecting our democratic process from outside influence." Read more »
“I have long called for a special congressional committee to investigate Russia's interference in the 2016 election. The president's decision to remove the FBI Director only confirms the need and the urgency of such a committee,” he said in a statement May 9. Read more »
"I think it needs to be considered," she told reporters May 10 when she was asked if there should be a special prosecutor. "Whether or not you are a supporter of Mr. James Comey's actions as FBI Director, the timing of his firing -- in the middle of an investigation into Russia's interference in our election -- is cause for concern," she said in a statement May 10. Read more »
House members calling for an independent investigation
“My staff and I are reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia. The second paragraph of this letter is bizarre.” Read more »
"There’s so much distrust and politicizing that it would be better for everybody that it had a special counsel,” Coffman told The Denver Post in a story published May 11. “Do I think there’s anything there? No. But I think until this politicizing issue comes off the table, it will be hard for Congress to get anything done.” In April, as the House Intelligence Chair had to step down from the Russia investigation, Coffman told NBC News "maybe it's time for an independent prosecutor." Read more »
“Both Democrats and Republicans attacked the FBI Director at various times for various reasons and called for his ouster. However, I can’t defend or explain tonight’s actions or timing of the firing of FBI Director James Comey. The FBI investigation into the Russian impact on the 2016 election must continue. There must be an independent investigation that the American people can trust,” she said in a statement issues May 9. Read more »
“Today’s extraordinary decision raises many questions all of which must be answered. Congress and the American people need a transparent explanation as to how this decision was reached and why it was executed at this time. It is critical that the FBI can continue all of its pending work with independence and integrity – especially the investigation into the Russian government’s efforts to influence our last election and undermine American democracy. Today I reiterate the need for Congress to establish a Select Committee with full investigatory powers to thoroughly examine this matter.” Read more »
“Both Democrats and Republicans attacked the FBI Director at various times for various reasons and called for his ouster. However, I can’t defend or explain tonight’s actions or timing of the firing of FBI Director James Comey. The FBI investigation into the Russian impact on the 2016 election must continue. There must be an independent investigation that the American people can trust.” Read more »
Jones is the first Republican supporter of a Democratic-led House bill to establish a bipartisan commission, outside the confines of Congress, "to examine any attempts or activities by the Russian government or other governments, persons or entities associated with such governments, or persons or entities within Russia to use electronic means to influence, interfere with, or sow distrust in elections for public office held in the United States in 2016." Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.) has said he's considering legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia as well. Read more »
In an interview on CNN's "New Day" on May 17, Kinzinger said he'd support either an independent commission or special prosecutor to investigate possible ties between Russia and Trump's campaign. "This is very concerning and we’ve got to get to the bottom of this. We’ve got to get answers,” the Republican deputy whip said. “What it really is is, when this is done, the American people need to know that justice was served, either way.”
“It is time for an investigation of Russia’s intervention in the U.S. Election. There is too much at stake at home and abroad to not take this step" he said in a statement issued May 16, citing "conflicting information" on everything Russia related. Read more »
“The timing of the firing makes it necessary to hand the investigation over to an independent prosecutor so it’s above reproach,” McClintock told the L.A. Times. Read more »
“The extraordinary decision to fire Director Comey definitely raises questions which must be answered. I believe these circumstances call for an independent investigation that the American people can trust with confidence,” he said in a statement issued May 10. Read more »
Don’t support firing 16
These GOP senators don't see why Trump had to fire Comey, but they haven't expressed support for an independent investigation, either.
“It would have been easier to explain if the president had fired the FBI Director earlier when Senator Schumer and other Democrats said they’d lost confidence in Mr. Comey. Given the timing, it’s imperative that the Senate, through its confirmation process, makes certain that the new FBI Director is a person of unquestioned integrity who can lead the FBI and can continue investigating Russian involvement in our elections.” Read more »
"Americans deserve a full explanation as to the circumstances of the decision to immediately remove Mr. Comey fromhis post." Read more »
"I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Jim Comey's termination. ... His dismissal, I believe, is a loss for the Bureau and the nation." Read more »
"We need to find out what's happening and why" she told reporters May 10 Read more »
"his removal at this particular time will raise questions. It is essential that ongoing investigations are fulsome and free of political interference until their completion, and it is imperative that President Trump nominate a well-respected and qualified individual to lead the bureau at this critical time.” Read more »
"We have a bipartisan commitment to get to the bottom of this Russian investigation," he told Fox News on May 10. "Nothing will change by virtue of Director Comey's termination." Read more »
"I've spent the last several ours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of Comey's firing. I just can't do it," he tweeted May 9. Read more »
"The timing raises soem questions because of the interference by the Russians in our election," he told Bloomberg TV on May 10. Declined to answer whether there should be a special prosecutor. Read more »
"In the days ahead, the American people need clarity and deserve and explanation for his immediate firing. It is unfortunate that over the past year the Director had lost the trust of so many people on both sides of the aisle. It is now important that the Senate confirm the next FBI Director with a thorough and fair process," he said in a May 9 statement. Read more »
"Giving timing and circumstances of the Comey decision, I believe the [White House] should provide a fuller explanation regarding the president's rationale," he tweeted May 10. In another tweet: "The American people must have faith in a strong, independent FBI. I'm concerned about eroding trust in this premier law enforcement agency." Read more »
Rubio told ABC on May 9 he was "surprised" by Comey's firing. Telling reporters May 10: "I do have questions about why he was dismissed at this time, given his service and his performance." Read more »
"Regardless of how you think Director Comey handled the unprecedented complexities of the 2016 election cycle, the timing of this firing is very troubling. Jim Comey is an honorable public servant, and in the midst of a crisis of public trust that goes well beyond who you voted for in the presidential election, the loss of an honorable public servant is a loss for the nation," he said in a May 9 statement. Read more »
"The timing of the president's firing of Director Comey raises questions that will need to be answered by the administration. I am hopeful that the administration will put forward an independent and strong leader of the FBI. Once the Senate receives the nomination, I look forward to a rigorous, fair and timely confirmation process," he said on a May 10 statement. Read more »
"It happened sort of suddenly, and those will have to be questions the administration will answer over time," he told CNN on May 10.
"Throughout his career, Director Comey has served the nation with distinction, and I have found him to be professional and responsive during my interactions with him. While Director Comey has faced criticism from both Republican and Democratic elected officials, it is my belief he attempted to lead the FBI to the best of his ability given the difficult circumstances before him and the hyperpartisan political climate that exists in Washington," he said in a statement issued May 10. Read more »
"I am working to learn the facts behind the President's decision, but I hope new leadership in the FBI will help restore Americans' confidence in the Bureau," he said in a statement May 10. Read more »
Support firing 10
These senators support the president's decision to fire Comey and have not expressed support for an independent investigation.
"Many, including myself, have questioned his actions more than once over the past year. I believe new leadership at the FBI will restore confidence in the organization and among the people who do the hard work to carry out its mission." Read more »
"Director Comey has lost the confidence and respect of both sides of the aisle includin the organization he was charged with leading. I look forward to new leadership that will regain public trust and restore integrity to the FBI." Read more »
"Senator Ernst has said the Director of the FBI serves at the pleasure of the President; therefore, this decision was up to President Trump to make," her office told the Des Moines Register on May 10. Read more »
Over the course of the last several months, Director Comey’s decisions on controversial matters have prompted concern from across the political spectrum and from career law enforcement experts. The handling of the Clinton email investigation is a clear example of how Comey’s decisions have called into question the trust and political independence of the FBI. In my efforts to get answers, the FBI, under Comey’s leadership, has been slow or failed to provide information that Comey himself pledged to provide.The effectiveness of the FBI depends upon the public trust and confidence. Unfortunately, this has clearly been lost," he said in a statement May 9. Read more »
"i think it was the right thing to do. He's changed his position so many times," Inhofe told reporters on May 10. Read more »
"Today we'll no doubt hear calls for a new investigation, which could only serve to impede the current work being done," he said on the Senate floor on May 10. Read more »
"I think the firing of Comey couldn't have come soon enough," He told Fox Business on May 10. Read more »
"POTUS acted decisively and within his authority. FBI is larger than 1 person. I'm confident a new director will be nominated, confirmed ASAP," he tweeted May 10. Read more »
"We got rid of it some years ago because it was so ineffective," Roberts told the Kansas City Star on May 10. Read more »
"A lot of people thought he wouldn't last long anyway, either under a Democratic administration or a Republican," he told reporters May 10. "His days were numbered. A lot of folks are probably surprised he lasted this long." Read more »
Undecided or unknown 21
These senators have not weighed in publicly, or they have weighed in with vague comments.
"I thank Director Comey for his service and wish him well in the future," he said in a May 10 statement. Read more »
"How the Senate is functioning or not functioning seems to me to be unrelated to what transpired last night," he said on the Senate floor on May 10, criticizing Democrats for holding up committee hearings.
"I want to personally thank Director Comey for his service. Moving ahead we need to work on finding a capable replacement that can take the reins and lead our brave men and women serving in the FBI," he told the Charlotte Observer on May 9. Read more »
He gave reporters no comment on May 10. Read more »
He gave reporters May 10 no comment. Read more »