Several Republicans from the Philadelphia region raised questions Wednesday about President Trump's decision to fire FBI Director James Comey, though mostly in less sharp terms than Democrats.
Rep. Charlie Dent, of Allentown, called the president's surprise announcement Tuesday night "both confounding and troubling" adding that "it is now harder to resist calls for an independent investigation or select committee." His statement added that Trump "must provide a much clearer explanation as to the timing and rationale for this action."
Similarly, Rep. Ryan Costello issued a statement saying that "to date, the explanation for the firing has been insufficient and the timing raises additional questions. The Congressman from Chester County added, "my constituents must have assurances that a non-partisan investigation will yield independent, well-grounded conclusions, and I certainly support that effort."
His comments echoed those of Rep. Lloyd Smucker a short time earlier. Smucker, whose district includes part of Chester County, said the firing "raises serious and legitimate questions about timing, intent, and the integrity of ongoing investigations. My constituents deserve answers and I hope to see a full explanation soon."
Sen. Pat Toomey (R., Pa.) said he has "doubted the ability of Director Comey to lead the FBI effectively for some time now but the timing of his dismissal is unfortunate."
He called for a new FBI director "who has unimpeachable credentials and integrity" and said that person "should continue pursuing ongoing investigations, including the 2016 presidential campaign."
Democrats wasted little time in offering their opinions Tuesday night, blasting the decision to remove the man who had announced that the FBI was investigating whether Trump advisers had collaborated with Russia to sway the 2016 election.
Sen. Bob Casey (D., Pa.) called the move "Nixonian," leading off a series of blasts from Democrats comparing the sitting president to the Republican chased from office over the Watergate scandal and cover-up.
"This is Nixonian. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein must immediately appoint a special counsel to continue the Trump/Russia investigation," Casey said in a statement shortly after Comey's dismissal became public late Tuesday.
"The president of the United States just fired the person who was investigating his campaign, which should set off alarm bells across the country," Sen. Cory A. Booker (D., N.J.) said in a news release. "The last time a presidential firing raised this many questions, America was in the middle of the Watergate crisis."
His statement referred to the infamous 1973 "Saturday Night Massacre," in which President Richard M. Nixon fired Archibald Cox, the special investigator leading a probe into the Watergate break-in.
One local Republican congressman who served as an FBI agent until last year, Brian Fitzpatrick, praised Comey and questioned his removal.
"Jim Comey is a man of principle and integrity; I have stated that repeatedly in the past, and I feel the same way today," Fitzpatrick, of Bucks County, said in a statement. "While the president clearly has the legal authority to remove the director, both the timing and reasoning for his removal clearly raise questions. It is incumbent upon all of us, as Americans -- regardless of party -- to allow all of the facts to be revealed in a timely and thorough manner and to react accordingly based on those facts."
He said the FBI needs "an independent leader" to take over so it can "continue the very significant national security matters currently under investigation, without interruption. We shall not and will not accept anything less."
Many Democrats went further.
Reps. Robert Brady and Brendan Boyle, Philadelphia Democrats, both said the firing showed the need for a special prosecutor to investigate any ties between the Trump team and Russia. And Rep. Dwight Evans, another Democrat from the city, wrote on Facebook that the decision was "highly questionable behavior" that shows "the Trump Administration is not ready for primetime."