Rep. Bill Keating, a former Norfolk County district attorney and special prosecutor who worked closely with former FBI Director James Comey, says he was “stunned” to learn of Comey’s ouster from the White House on Tuesday.
“I was absolutely stunned, and I don’t get stunned easily,” Keating said Wednesday in an interview with Boston Public Radio. “How far is this going to go?”
Comey discovered he had been fired while speaking to employees at a field office in Los Angeles, as a bank of TV screens announced the news behind him.
According to administration officials, White House and DOJ officials had been tasked with building a case against Comey for over a week. The timing of the firing, which the Trump administration attributed to Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation, is incredibly suspicious, according to Keating.
“You look at the timing, and it’s not credible,” Keating said. “This is something that even goes beyond the Watergate years in terms of dealing with the investigations of powerful government officials, the president in particular.”
The firing came shortly after the FBI issued subpoenas to former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn, who was fired after his past dealings with Russia came to light. Comey was leading the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
Trump received letters from Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had previously recused himself from the Russian investigation, and from the deputy attorney general, before issuing a personal letter and press announcement himself.
“The excuse they gave was that they did it because of something that happened last summer, the investigation of the Clinton emails,” Keating said. “[That’s] something that benefited them. That holds no credibility whatsoever.”
Several democratic lawmakers have called for a special counsel to take over the investigation into ties between the Trump White House and Moscow — which Keating says is unlikely to happen.
“Its not anticipated that’s going to happen,” Keating said. “The roots go through the deputy attorney general, who signed that letter to the president, and also it could be a device where they ask for a three-judge panel to appoint someone, and that’s not going to happen.”
The only hope, then, for those seeking an outside counsel, would be from the Senate, according to Keating.
“The real legislative involvement could be in the Senate, where they have to approve the next director of the FBI,” Keating said. “There are some senators who are giving an indication that until there’s a special prosecutor, they won’t support the appointment of a new director.”
To hear the full conversation, click on the audio player above.