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
    The Wanderer (profile), 12 May 2017 @ 4:25am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: 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.

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