The Tuesday night dismissal of FBI Director James Comey rattled a lot of skulls in Washington. Some pundits even compared Comey’s dismissal to the “Saturday Night Massacre,” when Richard Nixon, in an attempt to keep his presidency intact, put a number of D.C. bureaucrats out of work. While there are similarities between the Watergate investigation and the Russia investigation, there are also glaring differences — one of the most stark contrasts between the two was the complacency of Trump’s Department of Justice.
Nixon asked both his attorney general and deputy attorney general to fire Archibald Cox, who was the special prosecutor looking into the scandal. Both refused and subsequently resigned. Trump’s deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, penned a letter calling for Comey’s removal. And while the left may believe that the White House removed Comey in order to get their hands on the FBI before the investigation gained more steam, acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe assured a collection of Senators on Thursday that he would not allow the White House to meddle in the FBI’s Russian probe.
In a highly anticipated and nationally televised hearing, McCabe declared that he would inform the Senate Intelligence Committee if the White House tried to stick their fingers into the FBI. He also stated that, contrary to some of the conjectures of left-leaning pundits, there has “been no effort to impede [the] investigation to date.”
Throughout the hearing, McCabe drew a hard line in saying that he would stand up to the White House — even contradicting the administration on some occasions. While Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Wednesday that the White House and DOJ had “lost faith” in Comey, McCabe described working with his former boss as “the greatest privilege and honor of [his] professional life.” He also noted that “the vast majority of FBI employees enjoyed a deep and positive connection [to Director Comey.]”
When Senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) asked if the FBI would be willing to break with Trump at the risk of political backlash, McCabe announced, “Simply put, sir, you cannot stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing, protecting the American people and upholding the Constitution.” McCabe would not comment on conversations between Trump and Comey, as a number of Senators posed questions about Trump’s remarks that he was told three times that he was not under investigation.
Following the hearing, Senators Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who lead the Senate Intelligence Committee, expressed some doubt regarding the behavior of Rod Rosenstein but would not comment extensively on the matter. Both Senators were distressed by Comey’s removal, though they vowed to “get to the bottom of [the Russia investigation].” Burr described Comey as “one of the most ethical, upright, upstanding individuals that [he has] ever worked with,” and said that “the lion’s share of employees respect the former director.” Warner described Comey as “a straight shooter.” When asked about Trump’s remarks that Comey was “a showboat,” Warner said such a characterization as “offensive” and that it “does not show respect for the men and women of law enforcement.”