Schumer Floor Remarks Announcing Bipartisan Invitation to Deputy AG Rosenstein to Brief the Senate Next Week

May 11, 2017

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today delivered remarks on the Senate floor announcing bipartisan invitation to Deputy AG Rosenstein to appear before the Senate next week. Below are his remarks:

Mr. President, before the Senate adjourns for the weekend, I’d like to address a few things related to the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey.

The story coming out of the White House about why Mr. Comey was fired continues to change and there are no good explanations for the change.

For two days, the White House implied that the decision to fire Mr. Comey either originated or was largely influenced by the recommendations from the Deputy Attorney General and the Attorney General. The Vice President of the United States spoke to reporters here on Capitol Hill and said that it was the president’s “decision to accept the recommendation of the deputy attorney general and the attorney general to remove Director Comey.”

Those accounts, by the spokespeople of the president and the Vice President himself, were just blatantly and completely contradicted by the president himself on national television.

President Trump told NBC News that it was his decision to fire Mr. Comey, and he had made up his mind to do so before hearing from either the attorney general or the deputy attorney general.

Well, which one was it? Did the Vice President mislead the public, or did the President? When was the decision made to fire Mr. Comey and what was the reason? And why did it take so long for the White House to get its story straight?

These are all critical questions. And the American people deserve answers. We need to understand the true nature of the events that led to Director Comey’s dismissal, why it happened, and what it means for the investigation into potential collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia going forward.

This morning I made a request of the Majority Leader call an all-Senators briefing with Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein. Given the events of this week and particularly after what the President said this afternoon, a briefing from these two officials before the whole Senate, where Senators from both parties can ask and get answers to the serious questions hanging over us, is imperative for this body and for the American people. The all-Senators briefings with the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General should be separate and partially classified if necessary.                                       

The need for these briefings is even greater now than it was this morning.

The strength of rule of law and separation of powers – hallmarks of American democracy – are at stake.

Mr. President, I’ve just heard from the Majority Leader that he will invite Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to an all-Senators briefing next week – and I asked the Majority Leader to do the briefing early in the week.

It is a good first step and I thank the Majority Leader for consenting to this request.

Mr. Rosenstein was here on the hill today meeting with members. He requested to meet with me, and I said I wanted to meet with him along with my 99 colleagues, so that members of both parties were given the opportunity to question him. I am glad he has a willingness to come talk to Congress and I hope he will accept our bipartisan invitation (from Leader McConnell, from me) to brief the entire Senate next week.

My caucus still believes that Attorney General Sessions must be made available to the Senate in a similar capacity, given his reported role in firing Director Comey and helping to select his replacement. Considering his recusal from the Russia investigation, his close involvement in these events warrants the Senate’s questioning as well.                                                                                      

So again, I thank the Majority Leader for trying to set up a briefing with Mr. Rosenstein. It is very likely, I believe, that it will happen. It’s just pending Mr. Rosenstein’s consent.

And also I hope that the Majority Leader soon makes to the right decision and grants our request to question Mr. Sessions as well.