Trump Fires FBI Director Comey

from the you're-fired dept

So… not quite sure what to make of this yet, but according to the NY Times, just a little while ago, Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey (of course, just after our podcast came out talking about how Comey seemed to be hopeful the Trump administration would approve his encryption backdoor plans).

?While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau,? Mr. Trump said in a letter dated Tuesday to Mr. Comey.

?It is essential that we find new leadership for the F.B.I. that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission,? Mr. Trump wrote.

The full letter is… even more crazy:

If you can’t read that, it says:

Dear Director Comey:

I have received the attached letters from the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General of the United States recommending your dismissal as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I have accepted their recommendation and you are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately.

While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.

It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission.

I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors.

Donald J. Trump

I’m not sure why it even bothers to mention that Trump himself is not a target of an investigation (or that Comey told him that three times). It’s already known that the wider administration is subject to an investigation, and even if you don’t believe that such an investigation will turn up anything, it’s still happening. At the very least, this should call into question whether or not there can effectively be any investigation into the administration that won’t involve meddling by the administration. That alone should be a big concern.

I don’t think we’ve ever said anything particularly supportive of Comey, who we’ve disagreed with on a large range of issues, but it’s difficult to see how this is going to be a good thing. It’s already been admitted that the FBI was investigating potential ties between Russia and the administration. Whether or not that investigation had anything at all to do with the firing, there’s no way to spin this that looks good.

Yes, the President has the power to fire the head of the FBI… but when that FBI was conducting an independent investigation of the President, any such firing is clearly going to be seen as politically motivated. And, yes, it’s important to note that this is NOT entirely unprecedented. President Clinton fired FBI director William Sessions soon after taking office as well, though there wasn’t the stench of an FBI investigation into the President going around at the time. If anything, the comparison that seems slightly more apt that people are making is to Archibald Cox, the independent special prosecutor that Richard Nixon fired, leading to the resignations of the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General (contrast that to today’s news, where it was those two roles who recommended this firing…).

Comey was not a particularly good FBI director, and we’ve covered numerous problems with his leadership. But that doesn’t mean that whoever replaces him won’t be even worse.

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Comments on “Trump Fires FBI Director Comey”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: not conservative

… Comey ain’t no conservative — he’s been a liberal Republican (RINO) most of his life, although he said in 2016 that he no longer has any formal party affiliation.

Comey supported Republican liberals McCain and Romney for President.

“Conservative” President Obama appointed Comey as FBI Director.

Comey will likely take a cushy academic job at “conservative” Columbia University, where he worked before.

Roger Strong (profile) says:

Re: Re: not conservative

he’s been a liberal Republican (RINO) most of his life

Translation: He’s an actual conservative Republican.

Not a Cruz/Palin Tea Party Republican – a movement that was anything but conservative, and who declared even pre-Tea Party Republican hardliners to be RINOs.

Not a Trump/Bannon Alt-Right Republican, the Alt-Right by definition rejecting traditional conservatism and rejecting anyone not actively tearing apart the Constitution and Bill of Rights as RINOs.

Just a guy with a whole lot of pre-Tea Party, pre-Alt-Right conservative Republican credentials.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 not conservative

I hear that a lot.

I don’t hear it much from people who are from Arizona.

It’s true that McCain occasionally crossed the aisle for bipartisan legislation (McCain-Feingold), and that he opposed Bush on torture (have we really reached a point where being anti-torture is considered liberal?). But there’s no bigger foreign policy hawk, nobody who’s farther to the right on abortion. And sure, he may have once criticized Pat Robertson as an "agent of intolerance", but I can’t think of many instances of him actually voting in a way that went contrary to Robertson’s interests.

FiveThirtyEight did a recent analysis called Is John McCain a Maverick? Its methodology isn’t perfect; it relies on the "how often did he vote with his party?" metric, which treats all votes as equal; of course they’re not, and a vote with your party on a hot-button issue where the vote is close is a lot different from a vote against your party on whether or not to recognize Pi Day. So, grain of salt for that reason. But it gives an interesting picture, at least.

In only one Congress out of 10 since 1997 (the 105th) has McCain voted with his party more often than the median senator. Before that, he’d done so in three out of five congresses. McCain was at his most maverick-y during the early and middle part of President George W. Bush’s administration. From 2001 (107th Congress) to 2006 (109th Congress), McCain voted with his party 79 percent of the time; the median senator voted with his party 93 percent of the time. McCain’s maverick ways fell off during the early years of President Barack Obama’s administration, but McCain was, on average, 10 percentage points more likely to vote against his party than the median senator in the second half of Obama’s tenure.

And it’s not just that McCain is voting against his party on unimportant issues: McCain has been more willing to vote against the more conservative position on key votes in the past 20 years. McCain voted against the Bush tax cuts, for reducing greenhouse emissions and for funding Obama’s executive action providing federal benefits to immigrants who are in the country illegally, in addition to arguing against torture. You can see that McCain’s transformation on key votes (again measured by the American Conservative Union’s scorecards) matches up with when he began to buck the GOP on party-line votes overall: Just before his first run for the presidency in 2000.

So there’s some support there to your thesis that he moved to the right when he ran for President. But even at his most "liberal", he voted with the majority of Republicans four times out of five.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:3 not conservative

mccain is a slimeball from beginning to end, a hotdog asshole, a gold-digger who ditched his first wife for a millionairess, irresponsible pilot who lost a bunch of planes doing stupid shit, and as a pow, he was a tokyo rose…
he is a slimeball who has traded on his FALSE prisoner experience…

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 not conservative

A fair point, and thank you for the assessment and for digging up that analysis.

Looking back in more detail, I think my relatively-positive impression of him prior to his (best-known?) Presidential run came largely from an aspect of that “maverick” reputation not directly addressed above: a sense of integrity, of being willing to stand up for his principles even if they go against what the party wants.

In that Presidential campaign, I remember him breaking with what had appeared to be his principles to endorse what the party appeared to want their candidate to do/be/say, and that did serious damage to that appearance of integrity – and, by consequence, to that “maverick” reputation.

He’s still not quite as bad as many of his colleagues, but he’s never really recovered from that shift, IMO.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 not conservative

Uh, guys… if we’re going to talk about liberals and their (apparently) beloved bretheren the socialists can we please all agree on what this means? Here, I’ve done some research:

Short version: what liberals (socialist edition) are and what right wingers consider them to be are entirely different things. In any case, liberalism is first and foremost about personal freedom and free markets… you know, libertarianism. The boundary-busting is due to progressivism and the New Left movement that gave us political correctness (LOL @ safe spaces: they’re sniping at each other now!).

Liberal socialism is what happens when you inject the full spectrum of liberalism, including progressivism and market forces, into public welfare policy.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:4 not conservative

I’ll buy that, and it seems to be a problem with a lot of Republicans who run for President: they find they need to appeal to social conservatives they don’t necessarily actually agree with.

Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts shows him to be…well, about what you’d expect from a Massachusetts Republican (which is to say, not so different from a Democrat anywhere else). But he said and did some things on the campaign trail to appeal to groups that were a lot farther-right than his record suggests he, personally, was.

Even Bush, who was pretty right-wing, made campaign promises to the Christian right that he never intended to keep, such as his advocacy in 2004 for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

Not to say this doesn’t happen with Democrats, too, obviously. (Does anybody really believe Hillary Clinton ever really opposed the TPP? And President Obama’s record on supporting the surveillance state is far different from Senator Obama’s campaign rhetoric on the subject.) When it comes time to seeking votes, politicians tell people what they want to hear (or at least what they think they want to hear).

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Damaged goods

The problem is the timing. If Trump had waited for the investigation in congress to finish and it didn’t turn up too much dirt, he would be free to fire Comey. Now it just looks like a clumpsy cover-up.

So much for Trump being a Reagan-republican. In reality he is a Nixon-republican.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Damaged goods

What do you expect? Trump is as dumb as a box of rocks. He acts on impulse and without any thought, like all lower forms of life. He makes W look like Einstein and I never thought that would be possible.

He’s a narcissist who’s every thought and every move is designed to inflate his ego. His stupidity and his big mouth are going to bring his end very quickly. I think it’s great that he’s on Twitter shooting of his mouth every day so the whole world can see just how stupid he really his. He speaks “very bad” like he has a kindergarten education.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Sometimes it's better with the devil you know.

As Mike said, my big concern is with whom will Comey be replaced. Will it be a worse devil? Will it be a better devil. Either way, you can bet that whomever it is will be one with Trumps ideology, and not even Trump can tell for sure what his ideology is, there are too many companies out there with conflicting viewpoints.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Re: Let's say there was a REALLY BAD MAN in history

…and at the time you could replace this REALLY BAD MAN, you can say “A bird in the hand…” or “Better the devil we know…” but having 20/20 hindsight we know that replacing this REALLY BAD MAN before he did REALLY BAD THINGS would have made for a better VERY-BAD-WORLD-THING place.

So is Comey that bad of a man? When it comes to his views on going dark he sure is. When it comes to lying before Congress and affecting the nationwide vote for POTUS he is. How much worse can the head of the FBI be.

I’m all for replacing him… but like Uriel-238 I am sure I won’t like Trump doing it.

With kudos to EFF’s Counsel MG and his oft-misstated statistical observation about Usenet.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Let's say there was a REALLY BAD MAN in history

This is the problem with people not caring about the level of corruption in government. Sure a lot of people “say they care” but none of their voting records show an ounce of it.

Every election I hear about the lesser of two evils when voting. Sounds to me like we love corruption plenty because it keeps us entertained.

Kay (profile) says:

Re: Sometimes it's better with the devil you know.

Undoubtedly, whoever Trump taps for the job, he will require that they agree ahead of time to not continue investigating the Russia connection.

As far as the devil we know – it’s not as if any other director is going to be better for privacy. It’s the nature of that job and the type of people in that field. Not to mention Trump’s outlook on criminal justice.

The main positive outcome of all of this is that Trump has put another nail in his coffin.

Anonymous Coward says:

Mike, why make this post? Just another excuse to go after Trump? We get it. He sucks. I agree. He sucks. But what does this have to do with tech? What new insight did you bring to this? Remember when you made it a thing to not play politics? How you made a medium deal about not listing D and R next to politician names? But since Trump this site has kind of become HuffingtonDirt. Again, Trump sucks, but less Trump and more Tech please.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

Re: Comey was all against encryption as a matter of national policy

The removal of encryption from our available security arsenal would be disastrous to tech. Comey was all about that.

This is definitely tech, and not just “hey look, electronic squirrel” but rather a big change in the fighters against encryption as an available option.


Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Comey was a true believer in unicorns

As Ehud Gavron notes, Comey was a big fearmonger regarding terrorists going dark and believed wholeheartedly in hobbled encryption that can be unlocked by magic golden keys that can only be used by good guys.

In that specific regard he was a fool. How he handled the clinton email affair and electoral intervention by Putin makes him a clutzy, incompetent fool.

Or more likely, a fool who got caught being partisan where he shouldn’t have been.

David (profile) says:

Re: Encryption for all

As in Comey’s go to subject in any situation was/is encryption is bad/expensive for law enforcement anywhere, anytime and should always come with a warrantless back door so the cops can always look at your personal data.

Him being fired is interesting. Him not leading the FBI and loosing the pulpit to harangue against the tech world not nerding hard enough is good news for the entire tech industry and is worthy of

William Null says:

While we can't know for sure yet...

I believe that Comey’s replacement will be either neutral on or against government backdoors. After Snowden and Vault 7 Trump may be wary of putting such power into the hands of the federal government with all the leaks going left and right, not to mention he might see these kind of tools as anti-American as they can be used to spy on US citizens that did nothing wrong at all.

Therefore, while I don’t know whether he or she’ll be better than Comey on other issues, I believe his/her views on government backdoors will be favorable for our common cause.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 While we can't know for sure yet...

You are a fucking idiot.

His heath care plan? You mean the one written by Congress? That one?

Is that like Obama Care, which was actually written by Congress?

When all is said and done, the president does very little. Taxes? Congress. Healthcare? Congress.

Congress is the key, that is where everything happens, outside of lobbing a few bombs or signing a few executive orders (most of which Congress could take care of if they wanted) the president can do very little.

But you keep thinking that Trump really matters.

Daniel Audy (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Incidentally, slightly before he was fired the FBI office released a letter explaining that Comey had lied during his testimony regarding Abedin forwarding classified emails.

Specifically what ACTUALLY happened was that Abedin forwarded two email chains to Weiner for printing that were subsequently classified and her phone automatically backed up ten other classified email chains, a ‘feature’ that Abedin testified that she was unaware of and no evidence was found that her backups were ever accessed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Next Step On The Erdoğan Road ...

I’d reckon a few more steps on that road, but firing Comey at this time is problematic. Conspiracy theories aplenty were what he rode into Washington with.

Now he has drained the dreg of the economic elite into Washington, made an abomination of a Trumpcare that is strictly worse than Obamacare, he has started a nerve-war with North Korea and wears the “friend of Putin” in the media, if the media are not “fake news” by his definitions.

To me Trump looks more like a snowflake in over his head. His childish refusal to “look weak” but still bending on issues is sounding more like someone who is starting to crack under the extreme internal tensions in his administration. He is not able to use his negotiation-skills in politics, he feels the press is out to get him and he despice the game in congress as well as the legal abc.

Unless he starts to pull himself together and starts to ramp up the fight aganinst unwanted news and demonstrations, starts some more covert money movements and in other ways makes his system vulnerable to prosecution, the result is more likely a kid president with bad manners, than a dictator. Then again, the way foreign leaders describe him, he is scared of meeting the real world with all its complexity. Particularly he seems to lack the understanding of how international politics and trade actually works…

Rekrul says:

Well, it was either going to be this or Trump completely disbanding the FBI. Either way, you had to know that he wasn’t just going to stand by and let them investigate his administration’s ties to Russia. I’m sure the appointment of a new director will closely followed by the announcement that the investigation into Russia has been terminated due to “insufficient evidence”.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

We need a Federal law enforcement agency, but they need to be free of ideology. They should have the people as their constituents, not the government. They should actually enforce the constitution, regardless of what the rest of government says. I don’t know how to get this done, but this is what is needed.

Oh, and national security should be the purview of only a very small part of the organization, not their primary purpose. Along those lines, they should not be in the business of instigating stings, they should leave those to lower level agencies, and then closely review those stings for Civil Rights violations.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Historically you want NSA wrapped into CIA and have CIA and FBI cover separate issues entirely.

That NSA exist as a separate entity is a disgrace to democracy and the historical separation between military and police activities. The compromise was made for political reasons after the afternoon of 9/11-2001 and it doesn’t seem to have done much positive in reality.

Also, FBI should not fight for something that could hurt national security and economy by pleading for ruining encryption. The job of FBI is to secure the nation and anything inside the geographical region against foreign intervention. Thus the fight for backdoors from FBI is a blatant derelect of duties in the classical sense of the system. Offensive measures is the duty of CIA.

I know there are other hinderances that necessitates a more offensive focus from FBI since it also has a monopoly on some police duties, but moving away from the tried and true system is basically what the jihadists have said will destroy western “democracy” since 9/11. It would be nice if politicians were a little more thorough in their research before they overreact or let the interpretation run wild like for NSA. At some point we may see something important break if the politicians aren’t careful!

McGyver (profile) says:

“Concur”? That’s not a Trump word…

Someone wrote that for him… The Trump version probably went more like:

Hey Jim,
I got some papers from Jeff and Rod those attorney general guys… They are saying I aught to fire you as soon as possible. But I want everyone to know I thought of it first.
I was way, way ahead of them on this, but I’m gonna give them this one and let them say it was their idea… I think you did a huge job, it was wonderful, but basically I’m firing you right now.

I really appreciate that favor you did for me with the emails, and how you kept telling me that there are no microphones in my meatloaf and that I’m the best president ever… better than Andrew Jackson and Kim Jong Un combined.

Everyone loves me.

I tremendously agree with what those guys at the justice league said and that you are attracting too much attention to stuff that is nobody’s business but mine and Mr. Putin’s.

It’s hugely important that we find someone who’ll bring us better ratings and will help Americans forget all this fake news and lies about me. Now that you are outta here, we are gonna need someone that people really like, so do you have Batman or Captain America’s phone number?

Well, that’s it, good luck, you’re fired.

The Donald.

So I wonder who they are gonna install in that position now… Can billionaires with no experience in law enforcement be picked to run the FBI?

Koby says:

Bothers To Mention

“I’m not sure why it even bothers to mention that Trump himself is not a target of an investigation (or that Comey told him that three times)”

He bothers to mention it because the first thing liberals say (demonstrated to me by reading several other discussion boards within the past hour) is “I bet Comey was fired because the FBI is investigating Trump.”

DocGerbil100 (profile) says:


That’s Donald Trump’s signature? Well, holy shit! It looks like the tracks left by a freshly-murdered tricycle tire. That seems very appropriate for him, somehow.

… and isn’t it interesting that – thus far – all the reactions here are one-liners, or near equivalents?

I’m not sure what to make of this. I’m not sure anyone does. Possibly not even Donald Trump. Perhaps things will make a bit more sense tomorrow. 😛

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Uhhh...?

That’s actually more legible/recognizable than the last signature from him I saw (on an executive order, I think); this time you can at least recognize the first letter as being maybe potentially a D, rather than being clearly an A.

All the middle letters in the last name are still clearly something in the range from "m" to lowercase cursive "s", however.

Anonymous Cowherd says:

Big Whup. Not.

Eh, Comey was clown shoes. He screwed up by the numbers on all fronts and he finally got canned for it. End of story. The thing nobody seems to mention is how screwing up is actually a fireable offense in this administration, unlike the last one.

At worst, if he HAD completed the Russia investigation, he would have concluded that “Trump was carelessly friendly with the Russians, but had no intent to collide with them”. The precedent was there, ya know?

Now, if we could luck out and get a lawman instead of a politician for a replacement, that would be nice.

Daniel Audy (profile) says:

Re: Big Whup. Not.

Obama didn’t fire Comey because it would have resulted in screams about political interference in the FBI’s investigations from Republicans regardless of the fact that Comey violated the tradition of not commenting on investigations that found no underlying crime and explicit departmental policies on election period investigations. The idea that Trump fired Comey for ‘screwing up’ is patently (see keeping it relevant to Techdirt) absurd given that he has repeatedly praised Comey’s election interference.

Anonymous Coward says:

Looks more like Comey is getting thrown under the bus for Trump’s public image. Obviously the letter makes clear it’s not an investigation into Trump that got him fired. It’s an investigation into Clinton. By firing Comey, the people who claim Comey influenced the election have lost their main talking point.

Ehud Gavron (profile) says:

The future does not affect the past

Firing Comey TODAY absolutely has no effect on what he did in the past. The people who think Comey influenced the election are just as right/wrong and what he did doesn’t change back in the past based on what Trump did today.

But I like the way you think. You should go watch Memento or Benjamin Button or Merlin and enjoy, because real life is not like that.


Ben (profile) says:

So this is how Sessions defines recuse?

Attorney General Sessions promised to recuse himself from any investigation of Russian involvement with the Trump administration (and 2016 election).

…and he fires the person in charge of the investigation into Russian involvement in the Trump administration.

inconceivable! (but I don’t think that means what I think it means because obviously “to recuse oneself” doesn’t mean what I thought it meant)

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Sometimes we need a monster.

When Obama commanded the drone strike programs, he recognized that civilian casualties were bad. He ordered that the bodies not be counted too closely, that the numbers would stay classified and stay out of permanent records. We, the public, occasionally got estimates after someone in the press did some pretty deep investigating. The estimates were still super-grotesque, but the public didn’t have to care too much.

And now we have a president who celebrates civilian casualties with glee and joviality. Whether or not Trump requested the MOAB, he sure reveled in its spectacular results. Trump loves those high numbers of dead brown people.

And the public is, for once, aghast.

The problem with competent politicians is they can make the operations of holocaust sound routine and quotidian. We occasionally need monsters being monstrous to realize that waitaminute, something truly awful is happening, and that should change.

Meanwhile, here at TD, there was plenty of concern of the kind of dingo that Comey is. But no one here had the ear of the President.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Sometimes we need a monster.

You really don’t have a clue.

The Pentagon recommended dropping the MOAB for two reasons. One was to demonstrate to North Korea what we could do. The second reason is that the bomb had an expiration date and if they didn’t drop it somewhere, they would have had to dismantle and destroy it.

And you do a grave disservice to Jews and to humanity when you compare what is happening today to the holocaust. You should be ashamed.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Sometimes we need a monster.

This is one of the best fake outrage comments I have seen on TD.

I suppose we should probably use the older nuclear weapons we have before they go bad too. God forbid we don’t use all of bombs we make to kill people. Think of all the people we aren’t killing in the world. It makes me sick as an American to think that there are times when we decide not to kill innocent civilians.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Sometimes we are monstrous.

And you do a grave disservice to Jews and to humanity when you compare what is happening today to the holocaust. You should be ashamed.

Do I do a grave disservice to the Jews and to humanity when I suggest that skilled politicians might be capable of using distancing language to make holocausts palatable to the common civilian, Anonymous Coward? Do I do a grave service to imply that without vigilance such a holocaust might happen again, and without that visceral connection, people watching the news will go meh?

About 200,000 people perpetrated the Jewish Holocaust, but how many people endorsed or tolerated it? These days Hitler did nothing wrong! is an unironic motto of the Alt-Right, so… a lot?

In the meantime the civilian casualties in the Middle East from US military operations do number in the millions, and already did so before the 9/11 attacks. How many people have to die before you find it acceptable calling it a holocaust? (Hint: The Armenian Holocaust was ~1.5 million.)

While one might have argued we were doing it for oil interests during the 20th century, the anti-Islam fervor expressed plainly within the current administration implies that they’re happy for the casualties counted and will be happy to add to those numbers, so this may historically go down as genocide or ethnic cleansing.

Granted, they weren’t all drone strikes, for which civilian kills are estimated to be about fifty for one person of interest. The stat I like to use is that the Afghanistan drone strike program was, at its apogee, running about 500 sorties a year and killing more civilians than all the small arms in the United States combined. (Which is fun to think about the next time a school shooter massacres a bunch of kids. How much do we really want to save lives?)

Bush and Obama made it easier to massacre people by calling them militants, that includes people too young or too elderly to walk. The children, we call fun sized terrorists. Really. That’s what we call eight- and nine-year-old kids that the CIA murdered by drone. Fun sized terrorists. Isn’t that a riot? You are laughing, aren’t you, Anonymous Coward?

We are, thankfully, winding down the Afghanistan drone strike program, but the Pakistan program is still ramping up, and Trump has been specifically interested in opening up drone strike programs in other theaters. He’s kinda chubby about it the way he’s had wood about the US thermonuclear arsenal since before the election.

Regarding the MOAB’s expiration date, I’d have to argue that the peaceful dismantling of it would have been its best possible outcome. And yes, Trump may not understand what collateral damage numbers mean, but he sure loves them high scores. I’m sure they make him feel huge.

North Korea doesn’t need demonstrations. It knows without doubt the capabilities of the United States far surpass what is needed to annihilate its infrastructure back to paleolithic technology. We could do it using old B52s and expired iron bombs if we wanted. We have that much surplus. But no, if Kim Jong Un decided to do something stupid, we’d make an example out of him.

But I’m confident that Kim Jong Un isn’t stupid, or if he is, he has handlers that will stay his stupid hand.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Sometimes we are monstrous.

Yes you do, you jerk. You are normalizing the holocaust by comparing what is going on today with what happened. I guess you would agree that wealthy basketball players should be compared to slaves as well.

Whatever fits your fucking narrative. “oh god, the teacher gave us a test on Friday, he is Hitler”. But whatever supports your argument works for you.

Stosh says:

“It’s already known that the wider administration is subject to an investigation, and even if you don’t believe that such an investigation will turn up anything, it’s still happening.”

But what does it matter if evidence is turned up by Comey’s FBI if they can’t prove “intent” to break the law, no prosecutor would ever charge anyone with a crime……

Anonymous Coward says:

When Comey trod all over Loretta Lynch’s shoes she didn’t really care because she new she was just a temp. The new DOJ probably didn’t like him doing the same to them. That, and not doing his job of prosecuting and arresting criminals and potential terrorists.

It would be nice if he were exposed as a traitor for trying to undermine American security with all his backdoor F up encryption crap. But that isn’t going to happen. The MSM doesn’t even know it exists. I’m pretty sure their vocabulary has been dumbed down to one word now. Russia. It is all such bull crap. Flynn lying does not even rise to the level of the payoff to the Clintons for a uranium mine which was something like 20% of the US uranium hoard apparently. So all of this screaming and wailing about Russia is a bit suspect, and the hearings just theatre. Congress lost its teeth a long time ago. A hearing by gummies, parading a bunch of people who can’t remember anything, of people who don’t give a fuck.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Oh so you want to go back in time and lump more bads together? How about 16 years? 8 that eroded privacy and the Constitution and another 8 that had the chance to fix things but didn’t? How about even older bads that led to the early 2000’s world financial crisis? I see a pattern here and no Govt seems to be exempt from bad. How about we go back to Nixon and draw the parallels between Trump and him? Was Nixon bad? Was it bad that he didn’t even pretend or try to hide nepotism, his totalitarian tendencies? Is it bad that Trump does the fucking same? Good you say. Right. Wait till the good hits your arse right in the middle. We’ll be brothers in bad then.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:

What “good” is Trump doing? So far he’s gutted your healthcare (go and check!), defunded the environment agency, failed to provide proper governance by appointing officials to oversee various departments (, and kicked America off the “leader of the free world” pedestal, a post now held by Germany’s Angela Merckel.

Oh, and he’s broken numerous election pledges.

David says:

Comey wasn't a perfect fit under Trump presidency

You can be sure that the next FBI head, like anybody appointed in the wake of the Trump presidency, will be a greedy moron willing to do anything, no matter how inethical or openly illegal, in return for money and power.

Comey was somewhat lacklustre in the “moron” department which could have spelled a danger to the presidency.

John Cressman (profile) says:

Oh boy... more politics on Techdirt...

Again, please stick to the things you are good at… and politics is NOT one of them.

I could go on for pages on why this was a good decision and why the “investigation” into collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia was a politically motivated and has yet to turn up A SINGLE SHRED OF EVIDENCE of anything even remotely approaching collusion, but alas, Techdirt has shown its (dirty) political colors, so the FACTS would fall on deaf ears.

And by all means, please feel free to refute this by showing any ACTUAL FACTS that any law enforcement agency have made public.

Even Democrat blowhards have to admit there isn’t any evidence when hard pressed, and being honest.

The real crime and news here is that the executive branch can use the might of the FBI, NSA and CIA against political opponents with ZERO accountability. That should scare EVERYONE much more than the firing of a political agency head.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Oh boy... more politics on Techdirt...

It’s not his fault, Thad. Cressman lives in a right-wing echo chamber so whenever he finds dissenting opinions he freaks out and assumes we’re automatically opposed to his entire worldview, even when we’re not.

I keep running into people whose identikit, paint-by-numbers thinking freaks me out. If it wasn’t for the commenters here on TD I’d be convinced that people weren’t capable of thinking for themselves any more. As it is I’m forever meeting people on both sides of the aisle who only repeat their faction’s talking points without thinking them through or asking themselves if they stand up to scrutiny.

This is why I don’t repeat other groups’ talking points as a rule: every time I take a close look at them I find something that doesn’t add up. The world we live in can’t be reduced to talking points, people.

Personanongrata says:

Truth, Lies, Charades and Witch Hunts

It’s already known that the wider administration is subject to an investigation, and even if you don’t believe that such an investigation will turn up anything, it’s still happening.

The point is: as deplorable as some members of the Trump administration may or may not be there should be evidence (other than gossip/innuendo) of a crime before a years spanning investigation in search of said evidence.

As much as an SOB that Jim Clapper (former DNI) is he has been quoted as such in a March 2017 interview:

We did not include any evidence in our report, and I say, “our,” that’s N.S.A., F.B.I. and C.I.A., with my office, the Director of National Intelligence, that had anything, that had any reflection of collusion between members of the Trump campaign and the Russians. There was no evidence of that included in our report.

The "investigation" is a charade being played out in the center ring of a political three ring circus in Washington DC.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Truth, Lies, Charades and Witch Hunts

And here’s what he said two days ago:

[GRAHAM:] General Clapper, during your investigation of all things Russia, did you ever find a situation where a trump business interest in Russia gave you concern?

CLAPPER: Not in the course of the preparation of the intelligence communities assessment.

GRAHAM: Since?

CLAPPER: I’m sorry?

GRAHAM: At all, any time?

CLAPPER: Senator Graham I can’t comment on that because that impacts an investigation.

Chuck says:

Please Leave

There’s plenty to be said about this, but let’s just get a couple obvious things out there, shall we?

First, Comey should’ve been fired by no later than October 30th. The disclosure of the re-opened investigation was the SECOND time the FBI had violated their own policy of “we don’t discuss ongoing investigations” and in both occasions, the violation was committed by a (public) letter to congress with Comey’s own signature on the letter. If any other employee of the FBI had made such a flagrant, public violation of a policy the FBI has stuck to since literally the day they were formed, they would’ve been fired on the spot. No two weeks notice or anything. A good boss holds himself to the same standard as his employees, so Comey should’ve been fired last October, at the latest.

Second, not only does the FBI not speak with the public about ongoing investigations, they CERTAINLY do NOT EVER, EVER, EVER speak to the TARGET of an investigation about it. The fact that Comey has told Trump yes or no, either way, that he’s not under investigation is a violation of more rules, ethics, and basic common sense than I can easily count. It’s not about whether or not Trump is under investigation. It’s about the fact that Comey was so completely willing to violate even the basic rules that any local cop would know, just because it’s his boss asking him the question.

And third, the fact that Trump is so stupid he’d actually put this in writing is astounding. Trump is admitting that, on three separate occasions, one of two things happened: either Comey, completely unprompted, volunteered this information, or else, Trump asked. If he asked – and let’s be honest here, odds are about 90% he asked at least once – Trump was violating both federal law and basic ethics.

But then again, given how woefully unprepared he has been for even the most basic aspects of his new job, I’m not surprised. Let the next 3.5 years be a lesson to everyone: only an idiot thinks the skills that apply to the business world actually translate to governance.

All that said, a couple responses to some of the comments above are in order.

“… Comey ain’t no conservative — he’s been a liberal Republican (RINO) most of his life, although he said in 2016 that he no longer has any formal party affiliation.
Comey supported Republican liberals McCain and Romney for President. “Conservative” President Obama appointed Comey as FBI Director.”

This right here encapsulates everything that’s wrong with the republican party. I feel for you. I’ve been a democrat since I was 10 (I’m 30 now) and I know exactly what it’s like to have a party that’s really made up of a half-dozen warring subfactions, all claiming to be the “true” Democratic party, whilst in reality, the truth is none of them are. It took Obama and the subsequent 2010 mid-terms for us to FINALLY get our s**t together, and sadly, while that was happening, your party did the opposite. In 50 years this’ll be clear to you, but for now, just take my word on this: 2010 was the darkest year in Republican Party history because it’s the year you lost your identity.

As to Comey, the man is a conservative. Being open to at least hearing liberal ideas does not make one a liberal, it makes one a non-asshat. (I say the same about being a liberal who at least listens to and considers conservative ideas. I do. I agree with one or two of them, anyway.) The problem you have here is that what it means to be a Republican now is undefinable. There’s the traditional, ever-since-post-dixie-crats Republicanism, then there’s the Tea Party, and now the Alt-Right. Each of these is a different, and frankly, contradictory version of Republicanism. In fact, about the only things they have in common are being pro-corporate-profits and anti-environment. They differ on literally almost everything else. Before you start claiming Comey isn’t a Republican, you should start by getting at least 80% of your voters on the same page as to which of these competing ideals is what Republicanism really is. (Of course, to do that, you’ll have to kick some of these people out of your party, and we all know that means you’ll lose elections, so this won’t happen.)

“In other news Obama said “you get politicians you deserve!” Something wise from Obama is not common. I am a little shocked, but not too much.”

We’re talking about a guy who was a constitutional law professor for a decade. Wisdom was literally his job for several years. The fact that you’re surprised by this is just sad.

“So much for Trump being a Reagan-republican. In reality he is a Nixon-republican.”

In reality, he is a Non-Republican. See above for the problem with defining Republicanism, but Trump is none of the above. Trump is whatever he needs to be for the next 10 minutes in order to feel like he’s the smartest person in the room (which he ONLY ever is when he’s in a room with his supporters at a rally, hence why he keeps holding them even though the campaign is over.) Reagan publicly sold tax cuts to all, but quietly raised taxes on the rich. Nixon founded the EPA. Trump wants to cut taxes on the rich because it’ll make him, personally, more money and appointed a guy to head the EPA who has spent the past 15 years trying to abolish it. Trump can’t hold a candle to either Reagan or Nixon, and I say this as someone who doesn’t hold either of those two in very high regard.

Though, yes, he’s rapidly approaching Nixonian levels of corruption.

“The relevance of news about James Comey to Techdirt is explained in the first sentence. In the future, please finish reading the first sentence of the article before you comment.”

I don’t have a response to this, just wanted to echo it. RTFA people.

And…I’m done. In closing I’ll just say this: if you came here to respond to this, and only this one article, and don’t regularly read the articles here on Techdirt, please, please, for the love of science and sanity, please educate yourself on the core concepts and comment productively, and if you aren’t willing to do that, then just LEAVE. I love this web site specifically BECAUSE it doesn’t (usually) attract the crazies. Please do not ruin my one little sane corner of the internet. Thanks.

John85851 (profile) says:

Re: Please Leave

That’s an excellent post.

I would say the Republican party’s problems began in 2008 with the election of Obama. That’s when people the “truther” movement started (because how dare an African-Ammerican become president) and it’s about that time that McConnell and his cronies decided to make it their life’s mission to obstruct everything Obama did.
They don’t like Obamacare and voted to repeal it 50 times? Okay, that’s how laws work… but why in the world did it take until 2017 for them to come up with their own healthcare plan? And whether their plan is better isn’t point: the point was that they spent 7 years trying to repeal one of Obama’s landmark events without even suggesting a plan of their own.

As for Trump being a Republican- the above post is correct that Trump is whatever he needs to be in order to be popular. For years, he supports Democratic causes because it suited him, then he switched to Republican, then he defended Hillary Clinton as a good Secretary or State, then he said she was crooked.
Back during the election, Stephen Colbert had a great skit where he showed video clips of current Trump “debating” past Trump and you’d swear Trump was two different people.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Please Leave

I would say the Republican party’s problems began in 2008 with the election of Obama.

Because they were doing so well before that.

I’ll grant that the Republican Party’s problems got a lot worse in 2008, but I’m more inclined to believe they’re the long-term result of Nixon’s choice to embrace identity politics. With the Southern Strategy, he intentionally courted former Democrats in the South who had abandoned the party due to LBJ’s stance on civil rights; from there, he cozied up to the religious right, which, over the ensuing decades, has transformed the Republican Party from the party of small government into the party that wants the government to control who can marry whom, who can serve in the military, what women should do with their bodies, which religions should be allowed into the country, what recreational substances people are allowed to put into their bodies, what bathrooms people should use…

John McCain may be sitting in Barry Goldwater’s seat, but Barry Goldwater is turning over in his grave.

Nixon saw a political opportunity in pandering to bigots. (Of course, it may have had something to do with his own bigotry.)

The Republican Party has spent decades appealing to people’s baser instincts. Generally, there’s been a coalition: neoliberal business owners (everyone from the Kochs to the Romneys), foreign policy hawks (McCain), and religious conservatives and others with a lot of very specific ideas about white European Christian culture in comparison to everybody else (Pat Robertson, Pat Buchanan, Jerry Falwell, et al).

But the coalition’s gone wildly out of balance, and it’s quite clear that the social reactionaries are in charge. That the religious right voted for someone so clearly un-Christian as Trump is ironic but unsurprising; they use religion as an excuse, but it’s never really been about religion for them, it’s about fear and derision toward anyone who’s different.

Wendy Cockcroft (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re: Please Leave

That’s why I wrote this, Thad:

It turns out that the right has a moral relativism problem, too. We need to look at problems and come up with solutions instead of appending labels to ourselves and restricting or thinking to whatever is expected of membership of that particular group.

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Please Leave

Yeah, the team membership thing is so, so destructive. I’m hoping the increasing trend of registered independents means a trend toward independent thinking — though if all it means is that more and more people realize something smells funny in both major parties, I’ll take it.

Unfortunately I think we’re stuck with political parties. And, as long as we elect people on first-past-the-post, we’re stuck with two political parties. (Not always the same two — the Republicans displaced the Whigs, who displaced the Federalists — but always two.) There are some states experimenting with runoff systems, like Maine; I really hope that catches on.

But as long as people are at least making an effort toward evaluating candidates honestly, based on their benefits and drawbacks, instead of their tribe, that’s a good start.

My sympathies should be obvious — yes, I tend to vote Democratic — but I’ve voted for Democrats, Republicans, Independents, Greens, and Libertarians over the years. I do my best to evaluate the best choice for my vote, though unfortunately much of the time all the choices stink.

I don’t think getting rid of political parties is a realistic goal; people are always going to band together in coalitions, and even if you took the "D" and the "R" off the ballot that wouldn’t stop those parties from existing. But more parties, more options, and some viable independent candidates? I think those are attainable goals, even if they’re unlikely ones that require major shifts in how we conduct our elections.

The Wanderer (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Please Leave

Well said.

Unfortunately, my understanding is that what Maine seems to have chosen is one of the worst functional ranked-preference voting systems, in terms of eliminating the effects that lead to motivation for voting strategically rather than voting your actual preferences.

It’s been more than a decade since I was familiar with the details and the examples, but although “eliminate the candidate with the most last-place votes” and “eliminate the candidate with the fewest first-place votes” and so forth are certainly better in that regard than single-choice first-past-the-post, examples of voting situations where ranking A ahead of B can increase the probability of B being elected still exist.

The only system I’ve encountered where no such examples have been found that I know of is the Condorcet method itself, which has the downside that it’s relatively hard to understand how votes are actually counted.

I just hope that any difficulties Maine may encounter with their experiment with ranked-preference voting which may be due to the choice of a relatively poor method won’t turn people off of ranked-preference voting in general.

Anon says:

News Reports...

News reports said that Comey learned about his firing because it was flashing across the screen on the TV’s behind him as he was talking to a bunch of LA Field Agents. Now there’s an image sure to inspire loyalty to the current regime in front-line FBI folks, that your higher-ups get so little respect for years of service that nobody even bothers to check with them before announcing any such moves. Watch for field agents to ensure that any investigation details not dealt with by the justice department properly become known to the House and Senate, or the press.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: News Reports...

How great a meeting would that be? You are sitting there listening to the big boss man go on and on about bullshit. You are wasting your day, and then you see in the background that the dude just got fired.

Hahaha, I would imagine some just got up and left and got coffee and others started laughing.

NeghVar (profile) says:

The Statute

On Comey’s firing:
For those who think that Trump fired Comey simply because he was getting too close to…something about Trump. (I have no clue what or if it’s true) Comey rewrote federal law. That is where he messed up
U.S. Code › Title 18 › Part I › Chapter 37 › § 793(f)
Whoever, being entrusted with or having lawful possession or control of any document, writing, code book, signal book, sketch, photograph, photographic negative, blueprint, plan, map, model, instrument, appliance, note, or information, relating to the national defense, (1) through gross negligence permits the same to be removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of his trust, or to be lost, stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, or (2) having knowledge that the same has been illegally removed from its proper place of custody or delivered to anyone in violation of its trust, or lost, or stolen, abstracted, or destroyed, and fails to make prompt report of such loss, theft, abstraction, or destruction to his superior officer—
Shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than ten years, or both.
In the Hilary email scandal, Hilary matched qualification 2 in the entry above. Comey added a non-existing qualification (3). Intent
Comey’s own words:
“We did not find evidence sufficient to establish that she knew she was sending classified information beyond a reasonable doubt to meet the intent standard,”
That is the non-existing qualification (3) which he added to the statute above. That is the grounds for his firing.

Kay (profile) says:

This story has developed a lot over the past few days.

If what the sources quoted in the media are saying is true, Comey refused to “pledge loyalty” to Trump when they met, but pledged to always be honest with him.

For such a highly political post, and considering how much I disagree with many things the FBI does, I do respect what it must take to be asked that sort of a question by the POTUS, in person, and in that moment to be able to tell him no.

Imagine how different our press briefings would be if the other people Trump surrounds himself with had done the same thing.

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