The premise behind the firing of FBI Director James B. Comey, Jr. yesterday, is being met with the derision and skepticism it deserves in most political circles outside the steadfast Trump Defense Industrial Complex, i.e., Fox News, Breitbart, Info Wars, etc.
There are so many facets to this remarkable event, but let’s start with the stated premise behind the firing, because it is the most absurd and dubious on its face. The White House and the Justice Department packaged the rationale of the Comey firing by relying on one preposterous premise. The premise? That Director Comey unfairly handled the announcement to Congress about a resumption of the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s emails on October 28, just 11 days before the election.
Today, Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, even went so far as to describe Comey’s actions as director as “atrocities”. “I think also having a letter like the one he received and having that conversation that outlined the basic, just, atrocities, and circumventing the chain of command in the Department of Justice.”
In order to illustrate the magnitude of this fallacious claim, it is of value to consider Donald Trump’s views of Comey’s handling of the matter when Trump was campaigning for election. At a rally in Michigan on October 31, just 3 days after Comey’s appearance before Congress, Trump told the audience:
“That was so bad what happened originally, and it took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made in light of the kind of opposition he had where they’re trying to protect her from criminal prosecution. It took a lot of guts. I was not his fan, but I’ll tell you what. What he did, he brought back his reputation. He brought it back.”
There were several more instances of the same sort of glowing praise of Comey from Trump on the campaign trail in October following Comey’s disclosure that the investigation was being reopened, but we’ll look at just one other – this one in Phoenix on October 29. “I have to tell you, I respect the fact that Director Comey was able to come back after what he did. I respect that very much.”
“I respect that very much”. Trump deeply respected Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation. What happened between late October 2016 and May 9, 2017 that transformed Trump’s view of Comey’s job performance?
But Trump was not alone in his glowing assessment of Comey’s actions as Director. Then Trump campaign adviser, now Attorney General Jeff Sessions, speaking to Fox News, said Comey “had an absolute duty to come forward with the new information.” And a few days later just before the election, he once again told Fox News that Comey “did the right thing. . . He had no choice.” Let that statement sink in.
After the election, President-elect Donald Trump could have dismissed James Comey for the stated reasons that Comey mishandled the Clinton matter. But that is not what happened. Trump told Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo in April that Comey was “very, very good to Hillary Clinton” and kept her from facing charges, he (Comey) wants to “give everybody a good, fair chance.”
And Trump warmly welcomed Comey to the White House shortly after the inauguration, as is illustrated by this photo (credit Alex Brandon AP) on January 22.
Further revealing the flimsy nature of the explanation of Comey’s firing, is Donald Trump’s attitude toward Comey 10 days before Comey announced the re-opening of Hillary Clinton’s email investigation:
EXCLUSIVE: FBI Agents Say Comey ‘Stood In The Way’ Of Clinton Email Investigation:https://t.co/6n63fHVvNo
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2016
Finally, making matters yet more incoherent and yet more suspicious is this Tweet from May 2nd:
FBI Director Comey was the best thing that ever happened to Hillary Clinton in that he gave her a free pass for many bad deeds! The phony…
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 3, 2017
This dog won’t hunt. Not only will this dog not hunt, it isn’t even stirring from its doggy bed.
The dog that will hunt and is on the scent, is the dog that is pursuing the trail of Comey’s firing and the peculiar timing of the dismissal. The New York Times reported that sources within the Justice Department disclosed that Comey had requested more resources to pursue leads on the Russian counterintelligence investigation.
The pretext of Comey’s firing doesn’t even pass the sniff test of the Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman, GOP Senator Richard Burr of North Carolina, who said that he was “troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination.” Republican Senator from Arizona, Jeff Flake tweeted, “I’ve spent the last several hours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of Comey’s firing. I just can’t do it.”
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) said in a statement that “whether or not you are a supporter of Mr. James Comey’s actions as FBI director, the timing of his firing — in the middle of an investigation into Russia’s interference in our election — is serious cause for concern.” And Nebraska Senator Ben Sasse, remarked that:
“regardless of how you think Director Comey handled the unprecedented complexities of the 2016 election cycle, the timing of this firing is very troubling … I have reached out to the Deputy Attorney General for clarity on his rationale for recommending this action.”
Kellyann Conway, in response to questioning from Anderson Cooper, tried to put forth the nonsensical assertion that Donald Trump the President and the calculus that he employs to arrive at decisions such as the decision to fire Director Comey, is entirely separate and distinct from the thinking and reasoning of “candidate Trump”.
The problem with that notion is that it is riddled with more holes than Swiss cheese. President Trump still tweets every bit as much as candidate Trump did. President Trump is still making campaign appearances even though he has already been elected. Trump still demonstrates lack of impulse control and declines to educate himself on even basic matters of policy that a president should be able to articulate in media encounters.
So, we’re to believe that President Trump is evaluating decisions from the viewpoint of the gravity of the office of the Presidency. No, that dog doesn’t hunt either. Trump is getting panicky about the various investigations into collusion with foreign powers during and possibly after the election. That was what was behind the necessity of dismissing Jim Comey.
You know it, I know it and the American people know it.