Opinion: On President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey (Updated)

At one point or another during the past year, Republicans and Democrats have both defended FBI Director James Comey and excoriated him — just never at the same time. So what’ll it be now that this has happened?

The guess here is it’ll be one more log on the bonfire built by those convinced they can undermine the credibility of the Trump presidency and possibly even force him out of the White House — even though just hours earlier, many of those same people were complaining that Comey had once again betrayed the bias or hostility toward Hillary Clinton that led him to submarine her campaign days before the election. Having charged him with using an investigation to interfere with the political process, they will now turn around and accuse Trump of playing politics to interfere with investigations into him. That may explain why Trump seemed to pre-empt such accusations in his letter notifying Comey of his firing (note the second paragraph):

Trump’s letter refers to letters from the attorney general and deputy attorney general. The latter can be viewed here:

AP Photo / Cliff Owen

That letter is a pretty thorough denunciation of Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails — from his July press conference announcing the FBI would not recommend her for prosecution, to his late October letter revealing the investigation had been re-opened, and his election eve missive saying, eh, forget about what I said a few days ago, we’re all good. The original misjudgment took place in July, and while one might argue that in light of that mistake Comey had less latitude to remain silent about re-opening the probe, the better course of action would have been to remain quiet all along. If Clinton didn’t like the lack of closure that would have left her campaign, perhaps she would have preferred that to the way it played out. But regardless of what she preferred, it was, all around, the wrong way for Comey to proceed.

In a less polarized time, Comey’s firing might be seen by all sides as a necessary, if somewhat unfortunate, reset after his regrettable series of actions and statements. (Indeed, it’s easy to imagine Clinton, had she been elected, relieving him of his duties — and being criticized by the right for doing so out of spite. Or maybe keeping him — and being criticized for rewarding him for not prosecuting her.)

I rather doubt that’s what we’ll get here …

UPDATE at 10:01 p.m.:

This just in from CNN:

“Federal prosecutors have issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn seeking business records, as part of the ongoing probe of Russian meddling in last year’s election, according to people familiar with the matter. CNN learned of the subpoenas hours before President Donald Trump fired FBI director James Comey.

“The subpoenas represent the first sign of a significant escalation of activity in the FBI’s broader investigation begun last July into possible ties between Trump campaign associates and Russia.

“The subpoenas issued in recent weeks by the US Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, Virginia, were received by associates who worked with Flynn on contracts after he was forced out as director of the Defense Intelligence Agency in 2014, according to the people familiar with the investigation.”

This certainly looks bad, although it’s worth noting these were subpoenas, not indictments — and subpoenas were also issued in the case of Clinton’s emails, with no resulting indictments.

One question that arose when news broke of Comey’s firing was about the timing. The justification for Comey’s firing was his mishandling of the Clinton investigation. But we knew about that before we knew who the next president would be. Fair or not, it will be hard to persuade many people it’s just a coincidence that Trump finally got around to firing Comey after these subpoenas were issued. The fact that Trump referred in his termination letter to Comey’s assurances “on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation” makes it appear he was at least thinking about how this would look when the public found out about this latest step in the investigation.

That said, an investigation does not stop because the director of the agency is canned. And the existence of this investigation is too well-known at this point for it to simply disappear or peter out. Not to mention that a number of Republicans in the House and the Senate are already on record noting skepticism about the timing of Comey’s dismissal.

Democrats are calling for a special prosecutor, but that’s barking up the wrong tree. What is needed is an independent director of the FBI who, unlike Comey, isn’t hamstrung by his past ham-handedness. Yes, presidential appointments need a mere majority in Senate these days, but it would only take three Republican holdouts to deny that. If Trump is certain that he, personally, is in no danger of a rigorous FBI investigation, he should be willing to name a director who is seen as capable of carrying out just that. And Republican senators should be willing to demand just that. Let’s see what Trump does here.

Reader Comments 0

211 comments
RafeHollister
RafeHollister

Trump could resurrect Earl Warren or Oliver Wendle Holmes and appoint one of them FBI Director and the Dems would scream that he colluded with the Devil and put a zombie in the office to protect himself. 


He is in a no win situation, the Dems will be opposed to whomever he picks and allege a deal was made, even if he nominated Pocahontas, so he might as well pick the most competent person around, Trey Gowdy.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Special prosecutors take so damn long to find a "bone".

Forget a SP....let's get this done! 

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Much like Hillary, Trump is prone to unforced errors.

I hope and pray he doesn't make one with Comey's replacement.

John Pistole could be viewed as above board.

I'm sure the dems would prefer McCabe, but I can't see him accepting, with all the baggage that he's carrying around. 

TomGaff
TomGaff

@FIGMO2 I like Sheriff Clarke or Chris Christe. Both men believe in enforcing the law as it is written and take no BS!

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@TomGaff @FIGMO2

Too close to Trump. Christie has his own legal issues. Trey Gowdy's awesome, but again...too close to Trump.

When the facts come down, we want the public to have confidence that the deck's been cleared.

Smooth sailing going forward.

The dems' logjam needs to be broken.

PDPDP8
PDPDP8

Chris Christie is too busy directing traffic around that bridge over the Hudson.

TomGaff
TomGaff

Subpoena SUSAN RICE also! I bet the only words out of her mouth is taking of the 5th?

MarkVV
MarkVV

Kyle has written a good piece as a first reaction to another outrage by Donald Trump. One can hardly expect a denunciation from a right-wing columnist of an action of a Republican President. It is worth remembering, however, that it was some courageous Republicans (albeit in the Congress) who in 1972 sealed the fate of another crooked President by demanding accountability.

Kyle indulges in the fantasy of Donald Trump nominating an “independent” FBI Director, while disputing the need for a Special Prosecutor. It has been argued that a Special Prosecutor would have enough power to direct the investigation of the Russian activities and possible collusion of the President’s team even in spite of a President-friendly FBI Director, but that is beyond my knowledge.

Still, what is remarkable is the contrast between Kyle’s reasonable reaction to the events and the shrill, pathetic yelping of many of the Trump’s apologists on this blog.

Ralph-43
Ralph-43

Now clear that there is worry in the White House regarding discover of Russian collusion to fix the 2016 Presidential election in exchange for backing off on Ukraine independence, Assad removal, and Turkey oil.  Putin has military maneuvers going on off both U.S. coasts as a reminder to the Trumpetts that it is time for them to reimburse.  This is known in the United States as Treason:

United States Constitution:Article III, Section 3.“Treason against the United States shall consist only in levying war against them (e.g., cyber war), or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.No person shall be convicted of treason unless on the testimony of two witnesses to the same overt act, or on confession in open court.

The Congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

"Now clear that there is worry in the White House regarding discover of Russian collusion to fix the 2016 Presidential election in exchange for backing off on Ukraine" Would you care to show proof of such discovery? Thought not.

RafeHollister
RafeHollister

@Ralph-43 Did NASA commit treason when they faked the moon landing?  Unicorns want to know.

CarolineS
CarolineS

Mr. Wingfield, you suggest what is needed is an independent director of the FBI, but I hope you can explain how that would even be possible when that person is appointed by the President himself,  and by AG Jeff Sessions-- who shouldn't have been involved in the Comey firing to begin with because he is recused from the Russia investigation.  With all due respect, if this is your concluding argument as to "what is needed," it is ridiculous.  I would be interested to hear you elaborate on why you think this is actually a legitimate point with any possibility of being real.  If you cannot do so, then maybe you should take back your statement that the Democrats are "barking up the wrong tree."  --Caroline

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@CarolineS Good point


They cant just get a Trump yes man to head up the FBI. Declare the investigation over. Then move on.


That isnt going to fly.

TomGaff
TomGaff

@CarolineS Caroline, even if AG Sessions is not involved, it would still have happened! The new Deputy AG(who was incidentally appointed by former POTUS OBama) did the investigation. He could have taken it directly to POTUS Trump, with his recommendation of Comey to be terminated, skipping Sessions in the process. It would have had the same result! No big deal there!

JK1951
JK1951

@Hedley_Lammar @CarolineS Yes they can, watch 'em. Democrats are going to whine and cry no matter what he does so why not? Trump has been a riot, like him better everyday.

LikeMadison
LikeMadison

It might be useful to remember just how/why we even know about the Russia/Trump investigation.  By the rules investigations are not supposed to be public.  Seems like another strategic leak by the Obama/Susan Rice administration.

TomGaff
TomGaff

@LikeMadison One thing to remember folks, if the unmasking of General Flynn was ILLEGAL without a warrant, all evidence obtained is not admissible in court!

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

Imagine if HRC had fired an FBI director investigating her


That would have been fine right ?

DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Drain the swamp, this is why Trump was elected. When the media and Democrats are ranting irrationally and hypocritically it is a good sign he's on the right path.

PudHead
PudHead

I love watching the liberal lefties losing their minds….

curt49
curt49

So will Trump's gulags  be in the US or will they be renditioned straight to Russia?

skruorangeclown
skruorangeclown

If the clowns trotted out Kelly  Anne from her closet last night to defend Trump's actions, you know they are in serious trouble.

Bruno2
Bruno2

@fktrump 

"fktrump"

Speaking of closets, can you explain your sexual attraction to Donald Trump to the blog??

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@Bruno2 @fktrump

Hey, Brun. How's it hanging this morning? 

We could all use a little levity over at Jay's. Why don't you head on over, with your Grab Bag of Archived Lib Quotes, and give us a chuckle or two (at our expense, of course!).

Douglas8610
Douglas8610

@fktrump 

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Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

It must also be noted that Trump continues to deny Russian involvement in the 2016 election.


DawgDadII
DawgDadII

Sure. That investigation is on-going. Seems fair to note, I've spoken with a lot of people who voted for Trump and have yet to find even one who was influenced by Russian propoganda or "interference" in the election.

Bruno2
Bruno2

@DawgDadII

"I've spoken with a lot of people who voted for Trump and have yet to find even one who was influenced by Russian propoganda or "interference".

No evidence that any Hillary voters changed their minds either.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@DawgDadII Only a fool would think the Russian hacking and releasing DNC emails. Fake News stories etc did not effect any votes.


It did.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Bruno2 @DawgDadII  Now if Hillary had won you wouldn't hear a peep about Russian meddling in our election from these clowns.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Hedley_Lammar @DawgDadII  Only a huge fool would hang their hat on it. Hillary, lost because she was an awful candidate and the voters repudiated 8 years of Obama failed policies. It's over now you should get over it.

skruorangeclown
skruorangeclown

Trump never once mentioned bipartisan sanctions against Russia or its blatant actions in Crimea, Georgia and the  Ukraine during the 

campaign and also he hired two lackeys of Putin  as campaign manager and later as  national security adviser while praising the Russian hacking of his opponents but all the cons want you to believe that Trump is not motivated by saving his butt from an FBI investigation of his ties to Russia.


I expect Kyle and the cons will tell us about flying pigs next.

HDB0329
HDB0329

CNN reports that ROGER STONE told Trump to fire Comey......

Comey was closing in on Orange Foolius......this is starting to look like a CONSPIRACY to obstruct justice........


...if proven.....one article of impeachment!!


.....let the games begin......

skruorangeclown
skruorangeclown

@HDB0329 Roger Stone was a trained dirty tricks artist who got his training under Nixon and has his fingers in the Russian collusion plot with Manafort (his partner) up to his eyeballs.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

Archibald Cox


You will be hearing that name in the news a lot from here on out


Amazing how history repeats itself no ?

Doom a classical liberal
Doom a classical liberal

Just another thing for the Dims to be all outraged over. And the kooks are now demanding a special prosecutor for the nothing burger Russian interference nonsense. 


Oh well. Its beautiful down here on Clearwater beach today. Tampa is kinda ugly cept for the causeway but Clearwater is schweet. 

Bruno2
Bruno2

@Doom a classical liberal If you weren't aware, Doom, you're still a legend over at Bookman's.  Every new Con poster is accused of being you in disguise.  Jay even tried to cast suspicion on a new lady Con poster named Mary because she said "it do" one time.  Too funny.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

 undermine the credibility of the Trump presidency


Pretty amazing considering Trump himself is a birther


That may explain why Trump seemed to pre-empt such accusations in his letter notifying Comey of his firing (note the second paragraph):


Anyone who beleive this I just have one thing to say to you.


3 million illegals voted and Obama tapped my phone lines.


Nothing the mans say can be believed anymore. Sorry that ship has sailed.



JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Hedley_Lammar

We know you don't believe him.

Where was that great intuition when Obama was lying and misleading?

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

This is probably one of the most and maybe the most pathetic attempt at attack politics in our history. The Democrats dumfounded and desperate after their November loss are rationalizing that loss to explain away their failure and to undermine the Trump presidency by clinging to the Russian collusion canard. The newly approved Deputy A.G. Rod Rosenstein, a former Obama appointee with 30 years of experience respected by both sides of the aisle comes on board at the DOJ takes a hard look around and says Comey has to go. He makes his case to Sessions and the two make the case to Trump and Comey is fired. The Democrats along with the MSM desperate to continue their foolish accusation that Trump and his staff colluded with the Russians to dethrone Queen Hillary, are now going crazy. Trump, fired Comey, not the FBI, so investigations that are in progress remain in progress. Trump, understands this, so he isn't covering up anything.

Bruno2
Bruno2

@SGTGrit The funniest part is that the Libs have been calling for Comey's resignation/firing for some time now.  Now that they got their wish, they're still not happy.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

@Bruno2 @SGTGrit  Agree with your observation. I also get a laugh out of Chuckie's complaint that Comey was fired in the midst of an investigation into the Trump team collusion with the Russians. Complete misrepresentation of facts, the FBI is investigating Russia's meddling into our recent election. Comey, Clapper and others have said publicly that there is no evidence of Trump or his staff colluding with the Russians.

Bruno2
Bruno2

@SGTGrit @Bruno2 In addition, the investigation has been ongoing for at least 6 months now.  Does anyone really believe that relieving Comey of his position is going to change anything??

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@SGTGrit @Bruno2

Based on the unmasking history during the Obama administration, if there was anything, anything at all on Trump or his team the Dems would have yelled it 24/7 before the election and certainly since.

There is zip other than their lunacy.

Douglas8610
Douglas8610

@JohnnyReb @SGTGrit @Bruno2 

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