Former House Judiciary Committee chairman John Conyers, the senior member of the House of Representatives and the only remaining member of the committee that approved Articles of Impeachment against President Nixon in 1974, responded with necessary perspective and clarity to President Trump’s decision Tuesday to fire FBI director James Comey.
“Today’s action by President Trump completely obliterates any semblance of an independent investigation into Russian efforts to influence our election, and places our nation on the verge of a constitutional crisis,” said the Democratic congressman from Michigan, who did not hesitate to draw a comparison between Trump’s firing of Comey, who was overseeing an inquiry into Trump campaign wrongdoing, with Nixon’s Watergate-era machinations to force the removal of the special prosecutor, who was investigating his high crimes and misdemeanors.
“There is little doubt that the President’s actions harken our nation back to Watergate and the ‘Saturday Night Massacre,’” asserted Conyers. “This decision makes it clear that we must have an independent, non-partisan commission to investigate both Russian interference in the U.S. election and allegations of collusion between the government of Vladimir Putin and the Trump campaign. Today’s actions reek of a cover up and appear to be part of an ongoing effort by the Trump White House to impede the investigation into Russian ties and interference in our elections.”
But then Conyers focused on the role that Attorney General Jeff Sessions played in facilitating the firing of Comey. “I am particularly concerned that President Trump fired Director Comey based in part on the recommendation of Attorney General Sessions–who was forced to recuse himself from the underlying investigation based on his own actions and misconduct,” said Conyers. “This shocking decision by the President is beyond the pale and itself warrants independent inquiry and hearings, and reinforces the need for the Attorney General himself to step down given his own obvious and ongoing conflicts.”
Sessions should step down. Immediately.
If he fails to do so, then members of the House, Democrats and Republicans, must move to impeach the attorney general. And members of the Senate, Democrats and Republicans, must recognize the need to remove Sessions from the position he obtained after deceiving the Senate Judiciary Committee about what John Conyers correctly identifies as “misconduct.”
This is not the only appropriate and necessary response to the firing of Comey, which Congressman Jerrold Nadler, the former chair and ranking member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on the Constitution, says has the United States “careening towards a constitutional crisis.” Nadler warns that “the Administration (is) systematically attacking all of the institutions that are meant to put a check on the power of the President.”