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Amidst Comey firing, Democrats focus on "independent" and "prosecutor" while Republicans on "evidence" and "concern"

Kevin King

Kevin King

May 13, 2017

In the days following President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, reactions from members of Congress have been both divisive and distinct. As Democrats call for a special prosecutor and independent investigation, Republicans assure the investigations being conducted by the House and Senate Intel Committee's remain sufficient. With all eyes on these committees to continue the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 Election, it's important to explore the bipartisan makeup of the intel committees and how their members reacted to the firing of Director Comey.

House & Senate Intel Committees are among the most bipartisan in their chamber

There are 22 Representatives serving on the House Intelligence Committee and 19 Senators serving on the Senate Intelligence Committee. With an average bipartisan score of 4.5, members of the House Intel Committee are collectively more bipartisan than the House Committees on Rules, Judiciary, Foreign Affairs, Energy & Commerce, and more. Across the capitol, members of the Senate Intel Committee share an average bipartisan score of 6, which is higher than the Senate Committees on H.E.L.P, Energy & Natural Resources, Foreign Relations, Judiciary, Finance, and more.

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*Bipartisan score reflects how frequently a member cosponsors bills of the opposite party, and vice versa, measured on a 1-10 scale (1 being the lowest; 10 the highest).

Members of House & Senate Intel react to the Comey firing with differing language

An analysis of the top 20 keywords used in official statements on Comey by members of House & Senate Intel reveals key differences in how Republicans and Democrats reacted to the firing. Democrats frequently use words like “independent”, “election”, and “prosecutor” whereas Republican members frequently use words like “evidence”, “concern”, and “continue.”

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Zoom Out: Congressional mentions of “Comey” outpace “ISIS” and “job creation”

Beyond the intel committees, Comey has been a prominent topic of discussion across congressional dialogue. Since President Trump took office, there have been 2,138 mentions of “Comey” by members of Congress. Compared to some of the administration's key legislative issues, mentions of Comey is near equal with “tax reform” and far outpaces “border security”, “job creation”, and “ISIS.”

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Comey declines to testify

In the wake of the firing, Chairman Burr (R-NC) and Ranking Member Sen. Warner (D-VA) invited Comey to testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Yesterday afternoon, Comey declined the invitation. However, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who wrote the original memo calling for Comey's resignation, is set to brief the full Senate next week.

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