What is House Bill H.R. 531?
Cost of House Bill H.R. 531
In-Depth: Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD) reintroduced this bill from the 115th Congress to ensure that the FBI Director can perform his or her job without the threat of political repercussions. When he introduced this bill last Congress, Rep. Brown said in a press release:
“We need to be certain the FBI Director can perform his or her duties free from threats from the Oval Office or partisan politics. If the FIRED Act were in place, Mr. Comey would still be leading the FBI investigation into Michael Flynn and the President’s ties with Russia. As more information about the FBI’s Russia investigation comes to light, it is clear that President Trump has made disturbing decisions raising serious questions.”
In an interview after this bill’s introduction last Congress, Richard Painter, chairman of the board for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), expressed support for this bill:
“Put together with all the other evidence, it seems quite clear that [FBI Director Comey’s firing] was motivated by the desire to slow down or end the Russia investigation, and if that’s true, I think that amounts to obstruction of justice, but that’s where the evidence is pointing in my view.”
Patrick Eddington, a CATO Institute policy analyst, criticized this bill as an “ill-considered, feel-good messaging bill.” He added that there’s no legal definition of “good cause” to fire a Senate-confirmed official not guilty of dereliction or criminal conduct.
This bill has one cosponsor in the current Congress, Rep. Frederica Wilson (D-FL).
Of Note: This bill was precipitated by President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James B. Comey, which the President himself stated was due to Comey’s investigation of the president’s ties with Russia. Rep. Brown called Director Comey’s “unprecedented and without cause.” Immediately after the firing, most political observers characterized Comey’s firing as a massive political scandal.
At the time, Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA) called Comey’s firing “shocking”:
“The president’s firing of FBI director Comey … was a shocking development. The timing of Director Comey’s dismissal to me and many committee members on both sides of the aisle is especially troubling. He was leading an active counterintelligence investigation into any links between the Trump campaign and the Russian government or its representatives, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts to interfere in our election. For many people, including myself, it is hard to avoid the conclusion that the president’s decision to remove Director Comey was related to this investigation. And that is unacceptable.”
Writing in The Hill in April 2018, journalist Sharyl Attkisson argued that the “facts supported” Comey’s firing:
“A lot of new information has come out in the year since President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. No matter whether you admire Trump, Comey, both or neither — it’s now difficult to argue that Trump made the wrong move in removing Comey. Even many of Trump’s detractors would agree that no president should keep in place the head of a crucial division who — along with some of his top staff — apparently worked to undermine or control the president, and exercised poor judgment in important matters.”
Sponsoring Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD) Press Release (115th Congress)
Sponsoring Rep. Anthony Brown (D-MD) Dear Colleague Letter (116th Congress)
The Guardian (Context)
Summary by Lorelei Yang
(Photo Credit: Federal Bureau of Investigations Public Domain via Creative Commons)
To amend the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 to provide that the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation may only be removed for cause, and for other purposes.
- Not enactedThe President has not signed this bill
- The senate has not voted
- The house has not voted
Committee on the JudiciaryCrime, Terrorism and Homeland SecurityIntroducedJanuary 14th, 2019
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