The Comey Firing: A Study in How Trump Just Doesn't Get It - By Greer Clem
Another shock marked the seemingly endless first 110 days of the Trump presidency as Trump fired the head of the FBI, James Comey. Perhaps staying true to his New York roots, Trump did so with a Sex-And-The-City-style breakup; not quite by post-it, but by letter delivered to FBI headquarters when Trump knew Comey was out of town. Sitting contentedly in the Oval Office pushing his Coke button and tweeting away, Trump waited for the flood of support from both parties, proving just how much of a moron he really is.
The outrage from both parties has left a grossly unprepared White House scrambling and Trump fuming. Republican supporters of Trump's decision are saying, "You democrats wanted him gone anyways! What's the problem?" This I think is the critical question and one that is more illuminating than the answer itself because it shows just how deep the bipartisan divide is.
As a Democrat, I would answer as follows: When Comey announced just days before the election that he would be looking at more of Hillary's emails, I was enraged. That being said, I don't think Comey did this in the hopes of swaying the election in favor of Trump. On the contrary, I think Comey was fairly certain (as was most of the country) that Hillary would win and so he took these actions wanting to appear fair and impartial in the office he held. I do think that he should have also disclosed that the FBI had been investigating the Trump campaign's potential ties to Russia since July. There may have been reasons for not disclosing this, I'm not sure, but Comey's actions did come across as partisan.
Just last week Comey testified before the Senate and said that the thought that his actions had swayed the outcome of the election made him "mildly nauseous," but also said he would do it again. He also publicly refuted Trump's claims that Obama had him wiretapped, not because he was trying to regain some bipartisan standing, but because that was simply the truth.
Republicans may argue that if a democrat was sitting in the White House perhaps we would have dismissed Comey ourselves. This is false for several reasons: the first is that if Hillary were the sitting president, she would not dismiss Comey because that would look like an act of personal vengeance and would be severely inappropriate. The second reason is that any Democrat, or, for that matter, any other person in the white house would defer the the House and Senate Intelligence Committees to make such a decision. The House Committee already questioned Comey and he came out clean. Also, the tenure of the Head of the FBI is meant to be ten years so as to avoid partisanship. Firing the sitting head and then hiring someone new looks like you're trying to sway the FBI to be under your control.
So, let's breakdown the mentality behind Trump's decision. Back in January, Trump praised Comey for his actions during the election. On February 13, Michael Flynn resigns as national security adviser after it was discovered that he had failed to disclose meeting with the Russian Ambassador. On February 15, the Senate Intelligence Committee convenes to discuss going forward with the investigation into the Trump campaign. On March 2, Attorney General Jeff Sessions recuses himself from the investigation after he also failed to disclose a meeting with the Russian Ambassador during the campaign. On March 20, Comey testifies before the House Intelligence Committee where he refutes the claim that Obama wiretapped Trump and publicly confirms for the first time that the FBI is investigating potential ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.
So where does that leave Trump? Stewing in anger would be the correct answer. Trump assumed he could manipulate Comey to do his bidding because he fundamentally misunderstands the power of the presidency. When that did not work, Trump no longer had any use for Comey. The best part? Attorney General Sessions couldn't make the firing recommendation to Trump because that would look vengeful, so Assistant Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, crafted the memo. Way to go guys, no one's gonna piece that one together. Okay, I lied. Here's the best part: The rationale Rosenstein gives? That Comey mishandled the Clinton email investigation! If you're gonna fake fire someone, at least have a better fake reason.
I want to conclude by saying this: Republicans and Democrats should have an equally vested interest in discovering any campaign ties with Russia. If Hillary's campaign had been allegedly working with Russian officials, I would want to know. If a democratic president's former campaign needed to be investigated, I would want it to be done. Comey is certainly a flawed man who has made questionable decisions, but he was trying to do his job, and just because Trump has the power to fire him does not mean it's a good idea, especially once he had already passed through the House Intelligence Committee. Not only does that devalue your own House Intelligence Committee, it makes you look like a dictator. Trump does not understand that the role of the president is not always implicitly stated; rules and traditions exist for a reason. The American public is one thing he cannot control, and we will always hold him and any president accountable.