On Tuesday afternoon, FBI Director James Comey was fired by President Donald Trump. The decision was made after recommendations that Comey be ousted by both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Trump opponents have generally decried the firing of Comey. They believe he was sacked in order to obstruct the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in last year’s presidential election, and many have drawn comparisons to the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre” during the Watergate scandal.
Both cases involve a president getting rid of an official leading an investigation that could ensnare the White House.
On that Saturday night in 1973, Nixon ordered the firing of the independent special prosecutor overseeing the Watergate investigation, prompting the resignations of the top two officials at the Justice Department.
This week, Trump fired the FBI director in the midst of an investigation into whether Trump’s campaign had ties to Russian meddling in the election that may have helped send him to the White House.
The rationale behind the firing of James Comey is a memo written by Rosenstein, which blasted Comey’s handling of the investigation into former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s mishandling of classified emails. “The director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General’s authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution,” Rosenstein wrote. Rosenstein also criticized Comey for using a press conference to release derogatory information about Clinton and for publicly reopening the investigation into her emails in October.
It’s hard to disagree with any of Rosenstein’s reasoning. If any other president had made this decision, Comey’s firing likely would have passed without much controversy. After all, Comey’s actions during the election did harm the credibility of the FBI.
However, President Trump also fired Comey while the FBI was investigating Russian interference in the election.
For starters, a special prosecutor must be appointed to look into Russian meddling; and possible ties and coordination between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign. More than enough credible evidence has come to light to warrant one, and with the FBI’s probe now thrown into chaos thanks to Comey’s ouster, only a special prosecutor can provide the necessary independence.
There also needs to be an investigation into the firing of James Comey. The New York Times is reporting that Comey asked for more resources in connection to the Russia election probe right before he was fired. If Trump kicked out Comey in order to disrupt the investigation, Congress must impeach and remove Trump from office. That is a clear abuse of power and it cannot be tolerated.
The firing of Comey has brought a dark cloud over the White House. It’s up to Congress and hopefully an independent prosecutor to make sense of it.