The news that President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey while the Bureau’s investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties to Russia is still ongoing came as a surprise to many. During CNN’s “The Situation Room,” Senior Legal Analyst Jeffrey Toobin explained just how unusual the president’s decision was and shared his reaction to it.
“It’s a grotesque abuse of power by the President of the United States,” he called it. “This is the kind of thing that goes on in non-democracies, that when there is an investigation that reaches near the President of the United States or the leader of a non-democracy, they fire the people who were in charge of the investigation.”
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Toobin then went on to say that this sort of event has not taken place since former President Richard Nixon was in office.
“I have not seen anything like this since October 20th, 1973, when President Nixon fired Archibald Cox, the Watergate special prosecutor,” he said. “This is something that is not within the American political tradition. That firing led — indirectly, but certainly — to the resignation of President Nixon, and this is very much in this tradition. This is not normal. This is not politics as usual. This is something that is completely outside of how American law is supposed to work.”
The news of Comey’s firing was announced on Tuesday evening, and the president cited Comey’s handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s emails as the reason for the decision. The Trump administration has not yet made it clear why the choice to fire Comey occurred at this time, as President Trump has had nearly five months since taking office to do so.