By Brandon Byrne, Staff Writer
POLITICS: Trump’s questionable decision to fire Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Director James Comey seems like a Watergate level scandal.
Trump’s termination of Comey came abruptly and was seemingly random. Trump claims that the FBI was in “turmoil” for a long time and there was a legitimate pretense leading to his termination. However, since Comey led the Russian investigation, critics assert that Comey’s termination was a scandalous move comparable to Richard Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre. Nixon went down in flames as he fired almost everyone involved with investigation of his involvement with the Watergate break-in. Trump is starting to form a similar pattern as he continues to fire people heavily involved in the investigation of his connection to Russia.
The media was quick to challenge the grounds on which Trump fired Comey; Trump’s rebuttal was that Comey was losing popularity in the FBI, and the Department of Justice recommended his firing. However, depending on which days one watched the news, they may have heard different “official” reasons for Comey’s termination. On May 9, Trump’s administration announced that Comey was fired because of the way he handled the Clinton Administration and based on recommendations from the Department of Justice. In an interview with Lester Holt in days following, Trump changed his story claiming he “was going to fire [Comey] regardless of recommendation.” More recently, Trump added new reasons for Comey’s termination that are related to “grandstanding and politicizing the investigation into Russia’s actions,” according to a statement issued by the White House. Trump’s reasons for firing Comey have become muddled due to how many times he has changed his story. His reasons are unreliable when there may be other clear personal motives for Trump to fire Comey such as his instigation of Trump’s involvement with Russia.
Trump asserted that Comey’s termination was justified because many FBI agents dissented against Director Comey. Once again, Trump is spewing partial truths at best considering Deputy Director Andre McGabe, who is filling in Comey’s position, was taken aback by his termination claiming that “a majority of FBI agents felt it was an honor to work with Comey.” He went on to mention that only a small portion of agents disliked Comey as a director.
The Trump Administration may have “acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions” according to a statement they issued. However, without any tangible pieces of evidence to show that Comey was a poor leader, taking action solely from recommendations does not justify Comey’s termination. “It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission,” Trump said. Comey has not done anything to lose public trust; that is why his dismissal came as a shock to everyone, according to McGabe. He was respected by both sides of the aisle when he was voted into the Senate by a wide margin of 88 votes.
Trump has developed a pattern of firing people involved with his investigation, such as Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Comey’s termination may be a continuation of that pattern, with the former director being the lead investigator of Trump’s Russian connections. One should expect Trump to replace Comey with a loyal subject that will close the investigation of his possible Russian ties.