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“Absolutely improper and potentially a sign of illegal activity.”
As reports broke on Wednesday that President Donald Trump has asked acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe who he had voted for in the 2016 presidential election, senators from both parties have been reacting.
The claim was first published in the Washington Post, which cited the testimonies of White House officials, who spoke to the newspaper anonymously about what happened at the meeting between the president and McCabe in May 2017.
It was claimed that after a brief exchange of pleasantries, the president asked McCabe who he cast his ballot for the previous year. McCabe, officials relayed, said he didn’t vote. It was previously reported that Trump had demanded loyalty from the previous FBI director, James Comey, before firing him.
As expected, Democrat lawmakers had plenty to say on the intrusive question.
“That kind of question is totally improper and potentially, in fact, evidence of obstruction of justice,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) told reporters. “The FBI is an institution of preeminent independence. It should be above politics, it is a premier investigative law enforcement organization without allegiance to any political party or any president.”
“An inquiry by the president about loyalty to him or voting record or any other political connection is absolutely improper and potentially a sign of illegal activity,” he continued.
In a statement of her own, Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.) condemned the president’s interrogation and underlined the necessity that law enforcement be allowed to do their jobs without “intimidation” or “manipulation.”
“That’s not appropriate, and it is absolutely essential that the American public has confidence in the integrity of this whole process,” she said. “And that means we need to have a process where there’s no manipulation, where there’s no intimidation, where there’s no sense of fear by our people who are in the intelligence community, who are members of the FBI… Let’s let them do the job that they want to do, the job that they have to do just to be unencumbered by any influence and go where the facts lead them.”
“I’ve never heard that being done before. I think it’s inappropriate. If this is some kind of a carbon test that if anybody in your family votes for ‘X’ you can’t be part of an administration, I think that is not really the American way. It just serves to divide America even more,” Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) commented.
Meanwhile, Republicans appeared less available for comment.
“No comment,” Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) bluntly told Post reporters, before a guarded but condemnatory, “It’s not a question I’d ask somebody.”
David Gilmour is a reporter who specializes in national politics, internet culture, and technology. He previously covered civil liberties, crime, and politics for Vice.