By Chris Kenning and Ian Simpson
CHICAGO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A day after President Donald Trump’s stunning dismissal of FBI Director James Comey, protesters gathered in Washington, Chicago and other cities to urge an independent investigation of alleged collusion between Russia and Trump’s presidential campaign.
Waving signs and chanting outside the White House and at Senate constituency offices in other states, demonstrators said Trump’s move had compromised the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s probe.
“I still don’t have any love for Comey,” said Cody Davis, 29, among a small group of protesters near Chicago’s 96-story Trump International Hotel and Tower. “I’m not here to defend him. You could easily argue he lost the election for Hillary.”
Comey has been criticized by Democrats for his handling of an investigation surrounding 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state.
“The reason I’m here today is not that he was fired but because it was so clearly because Trump was afraid of something,” Davis said.
White House officials have denied any political motivation behind the firing and Trump said Comey had not been doing a good job and had lost the confidence of everyone in Washington.
Critics at various protests compared the Comey dismissal to the “Saturday Night Massacre” of 1973, in which President Richard Nixon fired an independent special prosecutor investigating the Watergate scandal.
MoveOn.Org and a coalition of liberal groups hastily organised protests at senators’ offices in more than a dozen states including New York, Kentucky, Arizona, California and Florida.
“Donald Trump just fired the one man in America who was leading the most thorough and long-lasting investigation of Donald Trump,” Jo Comerford, campaign director for MoveOn.org, said in a statement.
The issue also was discussed at town hall meetings being held by members of Congress across the country.
For some Trump supporters the controversy was overblown.
Denny Herman of Wamego, Kansas, said Comey deserved to be fired and the Russia investigation would not turn up wrongdoing. He said there was no need for a special prosecutor.
“It’s just liberal crap,” he said while relaxing at a bar. “We got bigger fish to fry.”
But in downtown Chicago, several dozen people banged pots and pans, waved signs reading “You can’t fire the truth” and chanted “Investigate Now!”
Several hundred people also gathered outside the White House and called for a special prosecutor.
“I feel like what happened yesterday was truly shocking, and the Republicans won’t stand up and do what they should without somebody pressing them,” said demonstrator Kelli Rowedder, a 34-year-old teacher from Washington.
(Additional reporting by Karen Dillon in Wamego, Kan. and Kathy Lynn Gray in New Albany, Ohio; Editing by Bill Trott)