President Trump’s stunning firing of the F.B.I. director, James B. Comey, injected another volatile ingredient into the partisanship already engulfing the capital and threatened to overwhelm Republican efforts to convert their government control into legislative success.
The decision to oust Mr. Comey also increased the prospect of another confirmation fight in the Senate, as Mr. Trump promised to move quickly to replace Mr. Comey, who had overseen the inquiry into Russian meddling in the election. And the White House’s handling of the dismissal — and apparent failure to anticipate the severe backlash it would generate — renewed questions about the competence of administration officials and their ability to navigate Washington.
After the House finally managed to pass a Republican health care proposal last week, divisive as it was, congressional Republicans suddenly found themselves trying to explain how Mr. Trump was within his rights in jettisoning Mr. Comey. Democrats quickly coalesced around a push for a special prosecutor to take control of the Russia inquiry, saying the leadership of the Justice Department could not be trusted with the job after the termination of the F.B.I. chief on what they considered spurious grounds.
“Clearly, the time is now for an independent prosecutor,” Senator Christopher Murphy, Democrat of Connecticut, said Wednesday. “The Senate, designed by the founding fathers as the guardian of democratic norms, must now rise to meet the gravity of this moment.”
To emphasize that gravity, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, summoned his colleagues to sit at their desks as the Senate convened Wednesday morning to take in whatever the majority leader, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky, had to say about the firing.
Mr. Schumer also requested that Mr. McConnell call a closed-door and possibly classified all-senators briefing with top Justice Department officials on the state of the investigation. Such a session could underscore what Democrats view as the seriousness of the president’s decision and give senators in both parties a private opportunity to confront their differences.
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