Rep. Katko: FBI Russia Investigations to Continue Without Comey; Protesters Demand Answers

May 10, 2017

Rep. John Katko, in car, looks on as a protester is pushed away from the car. The protester, Jonah Minkoff-Zern, prevented Katko from leaving by holding the car door open and demanding answers.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

Congressmember John Katko is calling former FBI Director James Comey a man of exceptional integrity who did the best job he could under the circumstances.  Both men worked together when they were federal prosecutors.  

Katko says Comey had an impossible job…he was adored and loathed by both democrats and republicans…for different reasons.    But the congressman says the FBI as an agency is top notch…and will continue to investigate Russian meddling in the presidential election.

"I've worked with them hand in glove for 20 years, and I know the leaders at the top have minimal to little impact on investigations going forward.  I can tell you this much:  I am absolutely confident that investigations underway by the FBI and the house and senate intelligence committees on this matter will go on full steam head.   Subpoenas are being issued, people are being interviewed, people are coming to testify, and that's going to continue unabated."

Katko says for that reason, he isn’t ready to support a special prosecutor.

Rep. Katko leaves a press conference in DeWitt as protesters shout questions and hold signs.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

"I want to let the house and senate intelligence committees do their job.   Everyone's rushing to get to the next step.  If the next step happens, I will fully support it if they recommend it.  The senate intelligence committee is very bipartisan.  The house intelligence committee is very bipartisan.  They're clearly working together, As long as their investigations continue, I think it would be premature to go to the next step."

Meanwhile, Katko says the rank and file at the FBI won’t be compromised by Comey’s firing.

Protester Jonah Minkoff-Zern has words with a Cuse Pit Crew staffer trying to help Katko leave.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

"They've always been top notch.  They're always well prepared.  They have high moral integrity. I feel bad for the front-line guys who are out there everyday working their tails off getting caught up in this."

Katko spoke to the media at an unrelated event, and a handful of protesters  with the CNY Solidarity Coalition met him there, too.  They yelled questions at him as he left…

"John Katko, we want to know why even though you committed to us...."

"Hello, I'm John," Katko said as he made his way to the car.  "How are you doing?"

Jonah Minkoff-Zern is a paid staffer with Public Citizen advocating on behalf of the CNY Solidarity Coalition.
Credit Scott Willis / WAER News

"Hi, my name's Jonah. We want to know why you committed to us..."

But after greeting protester Jonah Minkoff-Zern, he promptly got in a car and attempted to leave.  Minkoff-Zern persisted,  holding open the car door. 

"We want an answer.  Why are you avoiding us?  We want an answer.  I'm standing here asking calmly.  Answer the question.  Answer the question," Minkoff-Zern said. "People before nation."

"Thank you very much," was all Katko said as the door slammed shut and the car pulled away.

The activists continue to insist Katko hold a town hall meeting to hear from the people…and explain where he stands on any number of issues.  He maintains they're counterproductive and devolve into shouting matches.

"Do your job Katko!" shouted a protester, as  another tried to quiet her.  "You are a failure as a representative!"

In a statement to WAER, Katko spokesperson Erin O'Connor says the "incident with the professional agitator clearly crossed the line and will be dealt with accordingly."  She says it won't deter Rep. Katko from engaging with his constituents.