Schumer: No FBI director until special prosecutor named

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said on CNN's State of the Union that Democrats might boycott a vote on a new FBI director until President Trump names a special prosecutor in the Russia investigation.

The idea of a boycott was floated last week by several Democrat senators.  Schumer is the highest ranking Democrat to date to embrace the idea.


"Yes, I think there are a lot of Democrats who feel that way," Schumer told host Jake Tapper when asked whether he would support a move to block any potential FBI director until an independent investigator is named. "We will have to discuss it as a caucus, but I would support that move, because who the FBI director is, is related to who the special prosecutor is."

The president's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey last week raised eyebrows from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, especially given the FBI's ongoing investigation into Trump's campaign. The president did little to calm concerns about Comey's dismissal when he told NBC News in an interview that he weighed the Russia investigation, which he called a "made-up story," as he made up his mind to fire the FBI director.

As the Senate's minority party, Democrats would have little power to truly block a new FBI director, whose nomination would need only a simple majority to clear the bar of confirmation. But a partisan battle over the head of the FBI would be new territory for the Senate, which typically confirms the bureau's director with essentially universal bipartisan support. (Comey was confirmed by a vote of 93-1 in 2013.)

Schumer predicted that the plan would enjoy "broad support" among Senate Democrats, as well as among the American people.

Republicans don't need the Democrats to confirm an FBI director.  A simple majority of 51 senators is all that's required for a quorum and confirmation vote. 

But Schumer wants to taint any Trump nominee to the post to raise questions in the public's mind of the independence of a new director.  A partisan confirmation would be more of a nuisance than anything else, but it's all about embarrassing the president for the Democrats.  This is another Democratic tantrum, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

In the meantime, the FBI is being run by deputy director Andrew McCabe.  He is on the short list of replacements for Comey despite the fact that McCabe's wife received more than $500,000 in 2015 for her state Senate campaign from a group run by Clinton crony Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe.  Deputy director McCabe was heavily criticized for his role in the Clinton email investigation, and Democrats may not look unkindly on his nomination.

Whoever becomes the new FBI director will have his hands full avoiding the partisan minefield that Democrats have set up.

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