Two Democratic senators from the same state exhibited opposite reactions in response to this week’s news that President Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) released a generic statement when compared to that of fellow Sen. Kamala Harris, also from California, as well as those of other Democrats.
“President Trump called me at 5:30 p.m. and indicated he would be removing Director Comey, saying the FBI needed a change,” Feinstein said. “The next FBI director must be strong and independent and will receive a fair hearing in the Judiciary Committee.”
In sharp contrast Harris, who this year became both the first Indian American and the second Blackfemale senator elected to the Senate, on Wednesday morning said that now “is not a time for partisanship.”
This is not a time for partisanship. We deserve to know the truth on Russian interference in our elections. Period.
Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 10, 2017
Earlier, she reiterated calls for an independent investigation into Russia’s involvement in the U.S. election.
I’ve said it before and will again – we must have a special prosecutor to oversee the FBI’s Russia investigation. This cannot wait. https://t.co/Z9eeGNLTzr
Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) May 9, 2017
Harris was hardly alone in her call for a special prosecutor. And while Feinstein made zero mention of Russia or any kind of impassioned response a number of Republicans exhibited far stronger reactions than Feinstein.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), in a much stronger statement, said, “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.”
Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said he is “troubled by the timing and reasoning” of the firing, calling it “a loss for the Bureau and the nation.” Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) also called the timing of the termination “troubling.”
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) shared a short but honest reaction on Twitter.
I’ve spent the last several hours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of Comey’s firing. I just can’t do it.
Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) May 10, 2017
Rep. Justin Amash called Trump’s termination letter to Comey “bizarre.”
My staff and I are reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia. The second paragraph of this letter is bizarre. https://t.co/wXeDtVIQiP
Justin Amash (@justinamash) May 9, 2017
“Today’s extraordinary decision raises many questions all of which must be answered,” said Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-Fla.).
“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,” he added. “Today I reiterate the need for Congress to establish a Select Committee with full investigatory powers to thoroughly examine this matter.”
Harris has been more direct with her responses to political controversies since she became a senator, with Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson indicating she may have her sights set on a more powerful position.
“What we see is somebody who’s not going to run for higher office again and somebody who wants to run for president,” Levinson told KQED News.
In contrast, Levinson described Feinstein as “someone who’s winding down her career and mayhaveto wind down because she’s been so unemotional about things people want to see her fired up about.”
Speaking to LifeZette, Levinson said that Feinstein as well as the Trump administration “apparently misjudged the reaction among Democrats,” the publication reported.
“Perhaps they thought that Comey was so controversial and discredited on both sides of the aisle that it would be greeted as welcome news,” Levinson said.
Feinstein and Harris have expressed notably different reactions to political issues before, including as recently as with the Republican health care plan’s committee consisting of 13 men and zero women.
Feinstein on Sunday said that women’s “health interests deserve to be contemplated in any reform,” adding, “I don’t know what the 13 white men, when you have five Republican women who are excluded from that, that these 13 men are supposed to sit down and put something together.”
Comparatively, Harris took to Twitter to call the exclusion of women “wrong” and that it continues to show “complete & utter disregard for women.”
The GOP is crafting policy on an issue that directly impacts women without including a single woman in the process. It’s wrong. https://t.co/digJ8qXKr2
Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 6, 2017
From its drafting process to its content, the GOP health bill shows complete & utter disregard for women.https://t.co/i1lbuKIXiE
Kamala Harris (@KamalaHarris) May 9, 2017
Of including women on the committee, Harris added, “This really shouldn’t be that difficult.”
Regarding Comey’s termination, Feinstein released a stronger statement the following day.
“If Director Comey was fired to stifle the FBI’s Russia investigation and the timing of this action makes that a real possibility that simply can’t be allowed to happen,” she said.
“Toward that end, I plan to work closely with Senator Blumenthal on the appointment of an independent prosecutor. I will also support Deputy AG Rosenstein in the appointment of a special counsel who should be far removed from the politics of this place.”
According to Feinstein, her tune changed as “more and more stories began to unfold about the events surrounding Director Comey’s dismissal,” she told the Judiciary Committee.
“As I reflect on the decision to dismiss Director Comey, I become incredulous thinking about the ongoing FBI investigation into Russia’s interference with our presidential election and possible connections to associates of the Trump campaign and administration,” she said.
Interestingly, as she did with Comey’s dismissal, Feinstein later decided to express stronger words against the Republicans’ working committee.
13 white men are in charge of drafting the Senate Republican health care bill that would affect 125 million women. That’s ridiculous. #AHCA
Sen Dianne Feinstein (@SenFeinstein) May 9, 2017