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.

Filed Under: doj, donald trump, fbi, fired, investigation, james comey, jeff sessions


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  1. identicon
    Thad, 10 May 2017 @ 3:44pm

    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.


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