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. icon
    Uriel-238 (profile), 10 May 2017 @ 7:26pm

    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.


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