Trump fired FBI director James Comey yesterday, making Comey just the second FBI director in history to be given the boot.
The first was William Sessions who was fired by Bill Clinton in 1993. Keep that fresh in your mind. If you haven’t heard the comparisons yet, you’re sure to soon. Nevermind that it has next to no relevance, but that won’t stop those on the right from using it to justify Comey’s removal.
What is the left saying? Oh, they’re making their comparisons, too. It took all of ten minutes or so for someone to draw parallels to Nixon and the "Saturday Night Massacre." Again, it has no relevance, but it makes for good one-liners on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC.
The left has gone from loving Comey to hating him, accusing him of violating the Hatch Act and demanding his resignation --- then, all of a sudden, loving him again. Likewise, the right went from hating Comey during the Clinton email sham investigation to loving him for writing ‘the letter’ and then back to hating him. The trend --- regardless of on which side of the aisle you stand --- is to love him until you don’t and to hate him . . . until you don’t.
Throughout the entire soap opera, the media has made a killing pouring gasoline on a dumpster fire.
This Fiasco Is a Microcosm of Why We Hate Both the Media and Politicians
Is it fair for the right to make comparisons to Bill Clinton and William Sessions in ‘93? No. William sessions’ FBI wasn’t investigating anyone on Clinton's staff for colluding with a foreign government.
Is it fair for the left to compare Trump to Nixon and the "Saturday Night Massacre"? No. Nixon was trying to shut down a special prosecutor who was leading a criminal investigation into Nixon himself.
Did Comey suddenly become a special prosecutor personally heading up the counterintelligence division within the FBI? Not to my knowledge he didn’t. But that didn’t stop people like Adam Schiff going on Anderson Cooper claiming Trump was impeding a criminal investigation.
There are so many problems and exaggerations with this, I barely know where to begin.
Trump is Not Currently the Subject of a Criminal Investigation
Comey revealed to the House Intelligence Committee back in March that a counterintelligence investigation was ongoing, looking into ties with members of the Trump campaign and Russia. A counterintelligence investigation isn’t a criminal investigation. It means that some serious spy vs. spy is going on to see if they need to bring forth a criminal investigation.
But think about that. Why would Comey even reveal the presence of a clandestine counterintelligence investigation? Doesn’t revealing it, in effect, spoil it?
This would be like the TV show The Americans having the FBI announce on the news, “Hey, we kinda think these two might be Russian spies. We’re gonna be all sneaky and try to work some sources to see if we’re right.” The spies would go underground and the investigation would fail. So why did Comey release the information?
Also, if you think Trump did this to avoid an investigation, why did he do this knowing Andrew MacCabe would step in as interim FBI director? He’s a Clinton guy who has been called out during the Clinton email scandal for conflict of interest. Do you really think McCabe will shutter the Russian collusion case? To the contrary, he’ll speed it up.
Can We Have Some Common Sense, Please?
I'm going to break with the hysteria.
Is it possible to be both critical of James Comey and at the same time suspicious of what Trump’s motives are for firing him? Can we all agree that Comey was put into some seriously impossible situations?
He had to open a federal investigation on a candidate running for president. Historically, this was unprecedented. He also had to deal with criticism from sides on how he was handling it all. Comey then had to deal with Russian cyber warfare used to influence a presidential election and investigate if the president-elect was complicit in it.
The problem is that he screwed it all up. These were historic problems and he was historically bad at dealing with them.
On the other hand, why did Trump fire Comey in this manner at this time? Comey was speaking to a room full of FBI agents and saw the news that he had been fired on a back wall TV. He wasn’t asked to step down over the phone. He wasn't read his termination letter. If the reasoning behind his firing was the way he handled the Clinton email scandal, why wasn’t he fired on Inauguration Day? Why did they wait so long?
This is Not a Constitutional Crisis
Did Trump do anything unconstitutional here? No. There’s nothing out of bounds with what he did --- but did he open himself up to some serious questions? Yes. Why do this now? If he and his campaign were completely innocent of collusion with Russia, wouldn't it be smart to let the investigation run its course and then fire Comey afterward?
This isn’t easy. It's absolutely fair to be both critical of Comey and nervous about what Trump is doing, but we have to be level-headed.