President Trump’s sudden firing of FBI Director James B. Comey is bad for the country and will not be the end of the Trump-Russia affair, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) told a group of foreign diplomats and experts Tuesday night.
Although McCain did not directly accuse the White House of firing Comey to thwart the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible Russia ties, he did say that if that was the intention, it would fail.
“This scandal is going to go on. I’ve seen it before,” McCain told a meeting of the Munich Security Conference core group. “This is a centipede. I guarantee you there will be more shoes to drop, I can just guarantee it. There’s just too much information that we don’t have that will be coming out.”
He called Trump’s actions against Comey “unprecedented” and said the position of FBI director has held special meaning in American public life dating back decades.
“I remember the Saturday Night Massacre,” McCain told the mostly European and American guests, referring to the 1973 incident when President Nixon fired the special prosecutor looking into the Watergate break-in, Archibald Cox.
“Probably the most respected individual in all of the American government is probably the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” McCain said. “I’m very sorry that this has happened.”
The event was off the record, but McCain gave me permission to place his comments on the record. He said that Trump had the legal basis to fire Comey but that his decision would have long-term negative consequences.
“I regret it, I think it’s unfortunate,” McCain said. “The president does have that constitutional authority. But I can’t help but think that this is not a good thing for America.”
His evening comments were more extensive and more critical of the president’s decision than the statement issued Tuesday night by his office, which said McCain was “disappointed” by Trump’s move and praised Comey as a man of “honor and integrity.” McCain also renewed his call for the establishment of a special congressional committee to investigate Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.