President Trump has found yet another way to boil the political pot—dare we call it Trumpestuous—with the firing of FBI director James Comey. As expected, the termination of the FBI head has unleashed a firestorm of reaction among Democrats and Republicans.
Comey was speaking in Los Angeles Tuesday before an assembly of bureau employees when a television screen in the background began flashing the news of his firing. According to reports, Comey laughed at the news, believing it was some kind of joke. But it was no laughing matter later when he received the letter at his office in Washington, D.C.
The “Dear James” letter was a lot longer than Trump’s customary tweets, noting, “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.”
Like most of Trump’s actions, this one was equally disturbing and a flip-flop on a man who possibly helped him win the election. On several occasions Trump praised Comey for his investigation of Hillary Clinton’s server and the timing of the announcement to reopen the investigation of her emails on the eve of the election.
So, what gives? Is the president trying to hide something, such as his tax returns, or is this action just one more unconventional, irrational and unpredictable move by the nation’s leader?
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee didn’t mince words in his response to the firing. “The president’s action, and the way it has been handled, is shocking,” Leahy said in a press release. “No one should accept President Trump’s absurd justification that he is now concerned that FBI Director Comey treated Secretary Clinton unfairly.”
In Leahy’s opinion Trump’s explanation was a “fig leaf” seeking “to cover the undeniable truth: the president has removed the sitting FBI director in the midst of one of the most critical national security investigations in the history of our country—one that implicates senior officials in the Trump campaign and administration.”
Leahy cited the action as nothing less than “Nixonian,” recalling President Nixon’s firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox in 1973 during the Watergate debacle. “Given that the attorney general supposedly recused himself from the Russia investigation, he should not have played any role in removing the lead investigator from his duties. Deputy Attorney General [Rod] Rosenstein now has no choice but to appoint a special counsel.”
The suggestion that Trump was motivated by a possible cover up of his associates’ connections to the Russian government and their alleged involvement in the recent president election—none more damaging than Paul Manafort and Mike Flynn—has been voiced by many pundits and election officials, even some Republicans.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) was among those expressing disappointment in the firing. “While the president has the legal authority to remove the director of the FBI, I am disappointed in the president’s decision to remove James Comey from office,” McCain said. “James Comey is a man of honor and has led the FBI well in extraordinary circumstances.”
McCain believes the investigation will proceed because there are so many questions to be answered, including testimony from Flynn who didn’t last as long as Comey before he was terminated as national security head.
Even those on the far left voiced their disgust with the firing, feeling it was just another perilous step toward a fascist state. “Firing FBI director Comey is an ominous and dangerous move,” charged RefuseFascism, a group demanding an end to the Trump/Pence regime, “another in a succession of steps toward consolidating fascism.”
Comey is gone and what comes next—it’s rumored that Rudy Giuliani is on the list to replace him—may be even worse.