New England lawmakers are already starting to weigh in on President Donald Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday afternoon.
"The president's firing of Director Comey is a smoke signal," Democratic Massachusetts Congressman Seth Moulton said on Twitter. "And where there's smoke, there's fire. And this is a bonfire."
He also tweeted, "What do Sally Yates and James Comey have in common? Both were investigating Trump. Both were abruptly fired. This is not normal!"
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine endorsed Trump's move, saying "any suggestion that today's announcement is somehow an effort to stop the FBI's investigation of Russia's attempt to influence the election last fall is misplaced. The President did not fire the entire FBI; he fired the director."
But many Democratic lawmakers did just that.
Democratic Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren took to Twitter to criticize Trump's decision. She said it's time for an independent prosecutor to be appointed to investigate Russia's interference in the 2016 election.
She said Comey made "questionable decisions" during the election, then added, "But does anyone seriously believe [Trump] fired the top person investigating his ties to Russia because he was unfair to Hillary [Clinton]?"
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"Donald Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey raises serious questions about what his administration is hiding," added Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont. "It is clear that whomever President Trump handpicks to lead the FBI will not be able to objectively carry out the Russia investigation ... we need an indepenedent investigation into the Trump campaign's ties to Russia."
Sen. Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, echoed that sentiment.
"President Trump's firing of Director Comey sets a deeply alarming precedent as multiple investigations into possible Trump campaign or administration collusion with Russia remain ongoing, including an FBI investigation," Markey said in a statement. "This episode is disturbingly reminiscent of the Saturday Night Massacre during the Watergate scandal and the national turmoil it caused. We are careening ever closer to a Constitutional crisis, and this development only underscores why we must appoint a special prosecutor to fully investigate any dealings the Trump campaign or administration had with Russia."
Markey wasn't the only New England senator to invoke Watergate in his response.
"The president's action, and the way it has been handled, is shocking. No one should accept President Trump's absurd justification that he is now concerned that FBI Director Comey treated Secretary [Hillary] Clinton unfairly. The president, in fact, celebrated the director's mistakes in that investigation," Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont said. "That fig leaf explanation seeks to cover the undeniable truth: the president has removed the sitting FBI director in the midst of one of the most critical national security investigations in the history of our country — one that implicates senior officials in the Trump campaign and administration. This is nothing less than Nixonian."
Sen. Maggie Hassan, a Democrat from New Hampshire, said that the firing "raises many serious questions."
"The American people deserve a full accounting of the process that went into this decision and deserve to know whether the FBI's ongoing investigation into the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election had any influence on the president's action," Hassan said in a statement. "It is essential that the next FBI director be able to demonstrate true independence from the political influence of this administration and commit to following the facts of any ongoing or future investigations, no matter where they lead."
New Hampshire's senior senator, Democrat Jeanne Shaheen, called Comey's firing "very disturbing," adding that it "opens a Pandora's box of additional questions regarding Russia's interference in the 2016 election."
Democratic New Hampshire Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter said she will "demand an explanation for today's highly unusual action." With Comey gone, she said the credibility of the ongoing investigation into the Trump administration's ties to Russia is now in "serious doubt."
Rep. Stephen Lynch (D-Mass.) said while Comey showed "a deep failure in judgement" in the final days of the 2016 election, "the timing of his removal raises profound questions regarding the ability and willingness of the Department of Justice to carry out its mission on behalf of the American people. That mission is to enforce the law and ensure the impartial administration of justice even when doing so may reach the highest levels of our Government."
Trump abruptly fired Comey Tuesday, saying it was necessary to restore "public trust and confidence" in the nation's top law enforcement agency following several tumultuous months. The White House said the search for a new FBI director was beginning immediately.