President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday. Comey, he said, is “not able effectively to lead the Bureau.”
In Trump’s letter to Comey informing him of the firing, he wrote, “I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation.” He went on, “I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.”
Comey Usurped the Attorney General’s Authority
The White House said the president “acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.” Rosenstein’s memo laid out the case for the firing.
Comey usurped the Attorney General’s authority, he wrote. His job was to lead the investigation and then hand the bureau’s findings to the Justice Department. Instead, he held a press conference giving “his own conclusions about the nation’s most sensitive criminal investigation.”
Rosenstein then presented a long list of Republican and Democratic authorities who thought Comey had acted wrongly. They included two of George W. Bush’s attorneys general, Michael Mukasey and Alberto Gonzales. “Almost everyone agrees that the director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives,” Rosenstein wrote.
Comey had already made a series of missteps. Last summer, he said it was a unanimous decision not to suggest prosecuting Clinton. Others within the FBI said that was not true. He also made the claim that no prosecutor would pursue the case. This wasn’t true. Career attorneys and agents on the case thought she should be prosecuted.
He angered members of Congress when he destroyed laptops that were subject to congressional subpoena. Last week, he told Congress that Clinton’s aide Huma Abedin had forwarded thousands of their email exchanges to her then-husband Anthony Weiner. Only a couple of exchanges were forwarded.
Comey’s Investigation of Trump’s Ties to Russia
The firing came in the midst of Comey’s probe of the Trump campaign. He was looking into claims it colluded with Russia to influence the election. The DOJ issued grand jury subpoenas earlier this week to people with ties to Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Flynn resigned when it was revealed he lied to the vice president about his conversations with the Russian ambassador during the campaign.
Democrats say Trump fired Comey to thwart the probe. They are now calling for a separate investigation. Trump has denied any wrongdoing. A White House press officer told Fox News Tuesday night that the probe would go on.
Last fall, Democrats called for Comey’s firing.
Last fall, Democrats called for Comey’s firing. They were angry he said less than two weeks before election day that he was reopening the probe into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
Some of those same Democrats are now changing their tune. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he lost confidence in Comey last fall. Now he is saying Trump made a mistake by firing him.
Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) tweeted, “Ds were against Comey before they were for him.”
Ds were against Comey before they were for him.
— JohnCornyn (@JohnCornyn) May 10, 2017
As president, Trump has the authority to fire agency heads. “There are no statutory conditions on the president’s authority to remove the FBI director,” the Congressional Research Service said in a 2014 report. President Bill Clinton fired William Sessions in 1993. Session s had refused to resign after being found to have engaged in unethical practices. (For more from the author of “Pundits Speculate About Why Trump Fired FBI Director James Comey” please click HERE)