Trump’s stated reason for firing Comey is utterly unconvincing

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
FBI Director James Comey testifying before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on May 3.

Nothing about yesterday’s big story makes much sense. I certainly don’t claim to know why President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. The reason cited by Trump in his laughable letter to Comey firing him is utterly unconvincing. The letter said:

While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau.

I do not believe the current incumbent appreciates what he says he greatly appreciates. I also do not believe that he is “concurring” with the recommendation of the Justice Department.

The “judgment of the Department of Justice that [Comey is] not able to lead” the FBI was delivered to Trump yesterday in the form of a letter from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. I reiterate that I don’t know Trump’s real reasons, but the Sessions letter and the Rosenstein memo are both dated yesterday. To me they have all the earmarks of fake recommendations to provide cover for Trump to do what he wanted to do, which was fire Comey and appoint a replacement who will owe his job and his loyalty to the guy who appointed him.

Don’t take my word for it. Bill Kristol of the Weekly Standard (no liberal and no Democrat) tweeted out the same analysis. The Kristol tweet read:

The Rosenstein memo is dated … today. So there was no real recommendation from DOJ. Trump wanted to do it, and they created a paper trail.

But why did Trump want to do it? After all, many Democrats (including Hillary Clinton) lay substantial blame on Comey for tipping the election in Trump’s favor with his famous, unprecedented last-minute announcement that he had reopened the investigation into Clinton’s infamous e-mail problems, even though there turned out to be nothing new turned up by the investigation.

Comey has continued to defend that decision in ways that don’t satisfy Clinton or most of her supporters, who suspect that the real motive was to hurt her chances of winning the election. (Personally, I don’t particularly subscribe to that theory.) But if that theory is correct, Trump owes Comey a large debt of gratitude (although appropriate gratitude is not one of his core virtues).

For his part, Trump has publicly expressed his anger and disappointment that the FBI did not recommend criminal prosecution of Clinton over the email business (which certainly would have helped Trump’s electoral chances even more).

My best guess (it’s only a guess) is that Trump feels he needs guaranteed loyalists in every position that might have influence over the ongoing investigation of the Trump-Russia-interference-in-the-election matter.

Comey, who had Republican credentials and had served in the George W. Bush Justice Department, was nonetheless appointed to the FBI directorship by President Barack Obama. It was an Obamian gesture of nonpartisanship, but also a recognition that Comey’s conduct in key Justice Department matters had suggested that Comey was a relatively nonpartisan, nonpolitical straight shooter and man of principle.

During Comey’s most recent moment in the spotlight, testifying to Congress and being pressed to explain why he did what he did on the various election-related matters, he certainly begged the nation to believe that he is that nonpartisan, nonpolitical straight-shooter, who felt “nauseous” at the possibility that some of his decisions had affected the election outcome. Personally, I halfway believed him.

Meanwhile, the question of whether Trump colluded with the Russian efforts to help him win the presidency remains. Several Trump associates are up to their neck in Russian connections. Personally, I go back and forth in my hunches over whether Trump was actively involved in the Russian collusion. Certainly nothing has been proven along those lines, but there’s a lot of smoke that might indicate fire.

In firing Comey, Trump has strengthened the argument that a serious bipartisan congressional commission staffed with nonpartisan investigators needs to be created to get to the bottom of the Russia stuff, and it needs to be populated and staffed by people Trump can’t make disappear with his famous catchphrase: “You’re fired.”

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Comments (81)

  1. Submitted by Pat Berg on 05/10/2017 - 09:30 am.

    Special snowflake

    I agree that the timing of this firing is very bad. But I really tend to feel the reason may be no more complicated than the offense that our “Special snowflake” in the White House took at the public statement that Comey felt “nauseous” at the possibility that his actions may have tipped the election in Trump’s favor.

    That statement was quite insulting towards Trump, and we’ve already seen that our boy in the White House does not take well to negative statements about him.

    • Submitted by David LaPorte on 05/10/2017 - 01:56 pm.

      Why Comey felt “nauseous”

      I don’t believe that Comey meant that he felt “nauseous” at helping Trump. His statement suggests that he felt that way because he was revealing information that should have been kept confidential. I don’t see that as insulting to Trump personally.

      But Comey presented a false choice: reveal versus conceal. There was a third choice: wait to reveal until after the election. It was less than two weeks and he wouldn’t have violated the Hatch Act.

      However, I don’t believe that Trump fired Comey for reasons that were in any way related to how Comey treated Clinton. In fact, on October 31, three days after Comey’s infamous October surprise on Clinton, Trump praised Comey for having “a lot of guts”. It doesn’t ring remotely true that he’s now firing Comey for those same actions.

  2. Submitted by joe smith on 05/10/2017 - 09:32 am.

    Let me get this straight ….

    6 months ago the Democrats and leftists were screaming for Comey’s head, now he’s a pillar of our judicial system…. Hard to keep things straight when viewing through a political microscope.. As the Obama administration once said “never let a good crisis go to waste”.. Sadly that is what this total change of heart is!!

    • Submitted by Robert Lilly on 05/10/2017 - 10:14 am.

      Let me get this straight

      6 months ago Republicans were praising Comey and now he is fired. How convenient you left that out.

      • Submitted by Tim Smith on 05/10/2017 - 10:35 am.

        straightest

        a lot of Republicans were calling for his head 6 months ago for not indicting her like he should have, especially after Bill Clinton’s little tarmac tryst in Phoenix.

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 05/10/2017 - 11:26 am.

          The problem

          is that indicting someone requires the law to support the charges. And the Republicans calling for indictment were completely ignorant of the law. There was no basis to indict her. The criticism by the assistant AG was based on Comey’s statements about Clinton, not the fact that he didn’t charge her.

    • Submitted by Gene Nelson on 05/10/2017 - 10:42 am.

      you are missing something smith

      Yes, we called for his head. He DID have an affect on the election while releasing info on hillary that proved worthless, while hiding the fact that trump was under investigation for the russian influences.
      What I find shameful is the refusal by the right and people like you Smith, who would be outraged and calling for investigations had hillary had these russian connections.
      BUT…we all should be concerned about this firing of the person investigating these connections and…to me…it is traitorous to not desire a complete an open investigation into this issue.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/10/2017 - 11:25 am.

      Just to Clarify

      You are presenting talking points, not an argument.

      Commenting on the failure of others to be quiet for consistency’s sake is a pretty transparent distraction.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 05/10/2017 - 11:35 am.

      No

      That is not what anyone is saying. To call it a change of heart is completely dishonest.

      “Democrats and leftists” were and still are critical of Comey, as they should be. They are also critical of the fact that Trump fired the FBI director who was investigating his administration.

      Obama could have fired Comey for his abuse of his position against Clinton, but didn’t. That is because Obama is a man of integrity. Trump, as we have repeatedly seen, is as corrupt as can be.

      • Submitted by joe smith on 05/10/2017 - 12:50 pm.

        Comey is a political appointee, he was let go…

        DOJ oversees the FBI and will decide if there is any evidence to keep the Russian collusion investigation going. Firing Comey won’t stop that.

        As far as integrity, are you talking about the same Obama who protected Eric Holder after congress found him in contempt for lying about Fast n Furious gun running? Unlike this firing, (where the lefties are mustering up as much fake outrage as they can), 17 democrats agreed and voted to hold Eric Holder in contempt! Add in the cover up of IRS scandal with Lois Lerner, shady back room dealing with Iran deal, ending in planes delivering pallets of untraceable cash, Benghazi was a spontaneous attack (along with rockets) it goes on and on!! Maybe integrity doesn’t mean what it used to??

        • Submitted by Pat Terry on 05/10/2017 - 01:36 pm.

          Integrity

          Comey was independent of the Trump administration, unlike the DOJ and Comey’s likely replacement. The whole point of Comey’s firing was to derail the investigation.

          Integrity means what it has always meant. Integrity means party before country. It means being able to distinguish fake, partisan “scandals” like the IRS and Benghazi from actual wrongdoing. It means actually understanding the Iran Deal (which Trump now supports) instead of repeating Breitbart-esque nonsense.

          • Submitted by Pat Berg on 05/10/2017 - 02:28 pm.

            Did you actually mean to say . . . .

            “Country before party”? (I suspect that you did).

            You do have the option to go back and edit your comment.

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/11/2017 - 07:28 am.

            Fake and actual

            So Benghazi, IRS, and e-mails are “fake” scandals but Russian connection is “actual wrongdoing?” That is not integrity; that is blatant partisanship…

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/10/2017 - 01:44 pm.

          Integrity?

          Give me a break. The word “integrity” has no place in the vocabulary of someone who defends, or who defends while he is denying that he does so, the Trump administration.

          Unless, of course, it’s to say “I am willing to overlook this President’s complete lack of . . .”

          • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/11/2017 - 07:29 am.

            Integrity

            The only case when you are correct is if Trump does EVERYTHING wrong. However, assuming that (and defending that position) would show lack of integrity on its own.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/11/2017 - 10:12 am.

              Integrity

              “Integrity” refers to moral character. President Nixon lacked integrity, but he allowed passage of important environmental legislation. Similarly, I do not deny that Trump is capable of doing something right. It does not, however, mean he is not first and foremost a world-class grifter (“With a capital G, and that rhymes with T, and that stands for Trump!”).

    • Submitted by chuck holtman on 05/11/2017 - 09:04 am.

      That Trump’s coterie apparently thought the Democrats

      would applaud the firing, and that the Right thinks absurdly that your argument has force, just reveals again how the Right is incapable of stepping outside of its mindset and can only project its own way of seeing the world onto others.

      To the Right, it’s all about power, us vs. them, making its enemies (real or imagined) suffer, and payback. To the left, it’s about making a decent world in which everyone can live a decent life, and maintaining the structures that are necessary for that.

      To the left, Comey’s statements during the campaign were to be condemned because, regardless of his intent, they constituted abject propaganda that any reasonable person knew would have a substantial impact on the election. And his firing is to be condemned because – with the House and Senate majorities doing everything possible to abdicate their roles in upholding our democracy – it is a bald attempt to dismantle one more structure that places the rule of law in front of autocracy.

      It isn’t about the person, it’s about the roles and structures that sustain a democratic society.

  3. Submitted by Ray Schoch on 05/10/2017 - 09:43 am.

    Amen

    …to pretty much all of Eric’s column, and especially the final paragraph. That a man as insecure as Mr. Trump needs to have a close circle of “yes-men” is almost a given, and both that mind set and the actions springing from it in recent weeks have far too many echoes of authoritarian regimes in places that, a couple generations ago, we went to war with, and that in the current time frame, we continue to be at war with.

    Not only is Trump not a Democrat with a capital “D,” he’s rather far removed from being a democrat with a lower-case “d” as well. His continued support in some segments of the population should be touching to that Trumpian inner circle, but I doubt they do more than take it for granted. Personally, I’d argue that continued support of the Trump presidency is a symptom of political and ethical blindness.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/11/2017 - 07:30 am.

      Loyalty in times of Democracy

      Trump wants to have people around him who are loyal… Who doesn’t, especially in a world when they are indeed are out to get you? And wasn’t Obama not fond of people around him who disagreed with him? Didn’t he fire McChrystal? And I think Clinton was asking for loyalty, too…. As for being a democrat with a lower-case “d,” I wonder how democratic it is to prevent people from expressing their views… or accusing anyone who disagrees with you of “political and ethical blindness.”

  4. Submitted by Bob Petersen on 05/10/2017 - 10:28 am.

    Who cares?

    Comey lost confidence with everyone, both Dems and GOP. He had to go. Who really cares? Well, besides the media and those that want to use this to bash Trump.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 05/10/2017 - 10:42 am.

      Who cares?

      How about those of us who are suspicious of any move that could interfere with a full and fair investigation into potential Russian influence on our election and those currently in the White House.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/10/2017 - 11:26 am.

      Who Cares?

      How about those of us who want to see a fair investigation of the Russian connection?

      I understand that an independent investigation is the same as “bashing Trump” for the right-wingers out there, but a concern for the rule of law used to be non-partisan.

    • Submitted by Pat Terry on 05/10/2017 - 11:29 am.

      I care

      And anyone who cares about this country should care. Trump fired the guy investigating whether he committed crimes in order to stop the investigation.

  5. Submitted by Gene Nelson on 05/10/2017 - 10:54 am.

    Come has issues, but not as many as our repub party

    The firing of Comey, which will give trump and sessions the ability to hire their own investigator into this russian connections. That is the issue.
    We all know that if this was a hillary issue, there would be 15 different hearings and impeachment proceedings.
    We don’t know all of the answers into this russian involvement, but by this obstructionism by trump and the repubs, one has to wonder how deep this russian connection goes?

    • Submitted by Marc Post on 05/10/2017 - 11:48 am.

      Well said

      Thank you for saying what I’ve been thinking and hearing.

      I find it jaw dropping that the republicans are so in the bag for the Russians. When did they go so soft?

      At first, I gave Trump the benefit of the doubt. As time goes on, it becomes more clear to me that he’s unconcerned about the Russian influence as long as he can say “not me!”. He’s unconcerned that he’s surrounded himself with a swamp of Russian influence.

      Any President should be concerned about Russian influence in our government. The fact that this one acts to subvert attempts to uncover it makes me suspicious. Why does he work so hard to protect those who are influenced by the Russians? When did this become the GOP way?

      Patriots should be calling for and independent investigation. Trump needs to lead and get to the bottom of this or the entire GOP will be more suspect than it already is.

      • Submitted by Matt Haas on 05/11/2017 - 12:33 am.

        You make the mistake in assuming the GOP

        Is concerned about Russian influence. The Russia of today is not the scary communist boogeyman of yore. The autocracy of Putin shares many values in common with American conservatism, far more than that shared with our traditional allies. Not to be a conspiracy monger, but imagine a world where the US and Russia are not dueling superpowers, but twin heads of the most powerful empire since Rome. I guarantee that folks currently serving in this administration have, and its a terrifying realization.

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/12/2017 - 12:18 pm.

          Some examples, please

          Can you please name the values that Putin shares with conservatives?

          • Submitted by Matt Haas on 05/13/2017 - 12:47 am.

            Hmm

            Hatred of glbt folks, general misogyny, a desire for fossil fuel domimance of energy production, religious intolerance, military adventurism…shall I go on?

            • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/15/2017 - 07:27 am.

              Evidence please

              So where is the evidence that conservatives hate LGBT folks? Where is the proof that they are sexist? (By the way, women were totally equal to men in the Soviet Union, up to carrying rocks and digging holes… and they retired five years earlier than men.) Who is religiously intolerant and in which way? And Trump said he would not interfere in the world if he can help it..

              • Submitted by Matt Haas on 05/16/2017 - 12:30 am.

                See

                1. Kim Davis et al.
                2. The USSR no longer exists. Did husbands have legal permission to beat their wives when it did? They do now.
                3. See Donald Trump “We worship God” to paraphrase. See also whichever alt-right anti-Semite you’d like to google. Russia I believe dispensed with the small talk and made Russian orthodoxy the national faith some time ago, though I could just be mistaking Putin’s demagoguery of it for power’s sake.
                4. Yeaahh, ok. Those cruise missles and super duper bombs just fired themselves right off then.

                • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/17/2017 - 07:26 am.

                  There is no similarity

                  1. Kim Davis refused to issue marriage certificates to same sex couples, which has nothing to do with hate; all court clerks will refuse to issue marriage certificates to polygamists – does it mean that they hate Muslims and Mormons? 2. The law you refer to may exist in Russia but how many conservatives advocate for beating their wives? 3. Alt-rights are no more conservatives than communists are liberals – and, by the way, quite a few of both may be anti-Semitic. 4. Sure, missiles don’t fire themselves, especially from drones… Wasn’t Obama a big proponent of drone use? So, obviously, there is no similarity between Russia and conservatives….

                  • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/17/2017 - 01:54 pm.

                    Similarity

                    Kim Davis broke the law. Defend her as much as you like, she broke the law because she did not personally believe same-sex couples should marry. It was illegal, and based on hatred.

                    Polygamy is not legal anywhere in the U.S.

                    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/18/2017 - 12:22 pm.

                      Kim Davis did break the law because she personally didn’t believe same-sex couples should marry. But hate has nothing to do with it or, at the very least, you have no basis for attributing this to hate. By the way, breaking the law in the name of one’s beliefs has always been an honored liberal tradition; I hope I don’t need to give you examples…

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/12/2017 - 12:19 pm.

          A choice?

          Isn’t US-Russia union better than dueling superpowers which will bring the nuclear war – remember, Trump is a crazy man who cannot be trusted with the red button…

          • Submitted by Matt Haas on 05/13/2017 - 12:54 am.

            Depends

            If such a union leads to subjugation of all by olgiarchic rule, or by dictatorial totalitarianism, (a subjugation that would no longer have any means of being halted) would not nuclear annihilation be preferable? The problem with your assumption is the belief that the fruits of such a union would only resemble the conservative utopia you crave. Most likely it will resemble the dystopia that Putin’s rule in Russia has produced. Unchecked power has a way of doing that…

            • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/15/2017 - 07:28 am.

              I did not say that I want this union because I am not the one who is afraid of Trump’s starting a nuclear war.

  6. Submitted by Kenneth Kjer on 05/10/2017 - 11:05 am.

    Comey

    As a retired law enforcement officer I don’t agree with Eric Black Ink. The head of the FBI has and will always be a political appointment. Going back as far as J Edgar, his appointment and ability to stay in office was completely politically based on the fact that the Presidents during his tenure were afraid of what private information Hoover had on them. Since Hoover was removed the Director has served at the pleasure of the President, right or wrong. Political appointments to head law enforcement agencies always create conflict between the appointer and the appointee. Minneapolis is a good example. In the Comey case he should have been removed long ago. He never impressed me as a strong leader and was what I would call wishy washy. However, if Trump or any President wanted him gone, he served at the pleasure of whoever sat in the oval office and I don’t believe that any President needs to justify replacing the Director of the FBI. In history there has never been a strong law enforcement executive appointed to head the FBI.

    • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/10/2017 - 07:27 pm.

      The President

      is not a dictator.
      He is bound by the Constitution and the body of law derived from it.
      Ultimately, -everything- that he does must be justified. That is why the Founders put impeachment into the Constitution, and left it to Congress to define it.
      Ultimately, the President (the person who presides over a body) serves with the consent of that Congress.

  7. Submitted by John Ferman on 05/10/2017 - 11:09 am.

    The future will tell

    With Comey out, is there any priority on continuing the Russia meddling investigation. I am counting on the independent news media to watch ongoing developments. Will the Russia investigation wind down to an intern investigator. Will the next FBI director be in anyone’s pocket.

    • Submitted by cory johnson on 05/10/2017 - 11:25 am.

      His temporary replacement…..

      Is Andrew McCabe. Not exactly a conservative. He and his wife are lifelong Democrats. Calm down everyone. Comey would’ve been fired the day after his July press conference by any president who hadn’t already checked out.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/10/2017 - 12:02 pm.

        I Feel Much Better

        Comey’s temporary replacement is a Democrat, you say? Well, there’s a load off my mind! I’m sure this temporary replacement will be in office long enough to conduct a thorough investigation of Russian activities in the US presidential campaign. Because if there is one thing that inspires confidence, it’s the knowledge that a temporary replacement is in place.

        No, that doesn’t convince me, either. Trump will name his own hench-person to take over the FBI, that person will be swiftly confirmed by the Senate, and any investigation of the Trump campaign will be dead. On the other hand, there will likely be a renewed (and press-release happy) investigation into Senator Clinton, with a lot of details about her connection with Anthony Weiner (because there’s nothing like a little salacious gossip to keep the rubes interested).

        “Comey would’ve been fired the day after his July press conference by any president who hadn’t already checked out.” And the same Republicans who approve of his dismissal now would express the same opinions if President Obama had done it. Right?

        • Submitted by cory johnson on 05/10/2017 - 12:18 pm.

          Of course they would’ve been happy….

          If Obama had fired Comey in July. It was an incompetent display of mental gymnastics. First Comey lists all her infractions and then says he isn’t going to recommend prosecuting Clinton due to lack of intent( which isn’t part of the statute). I’d say both parties were dismayed for different reasons. Then the letter in October. What’s was he thinking?
          Many commenters on this thread seem to think Comey had all the incriminating evidence on Trump and firing him is the same as burning it all. If there is anything between Trump and the Russians (and so far not one shred of evidence BTW) does anyone think the Democrats in the FBI wouldn’t leak it? Honestly the Republicans should be more upset at Trump for firing Comey. Talk about a distraction.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/10/2017 - 01:42 pm.

            “[S]o far not one shred of evidence BTW . . .”

            The operative word is “so far.” There are “shreds ” of evidence linking his flunkies to the Russians. Will we ever know if the trail goes further? No, because “so far” there is no evidence. No need to continue this.

            “[D]oes anyone think the Democrats in the FBI wouldn’t leak it?” I would guess the FBI tends Republican. Note that I said “tends.” You do not need to take the time to search the internet for a “Democrat FBI agent.”

            “Then the letter in October. What’s was he thinking?” That should have been reason enough for Republicans to be happy with him. A last-minute announcement of an investigation? You cannot tell me that the Republicans were so upset about something that could only help them in the election being released. It was unprofessional and unethical, but tribal loyalties are too strong.

          • Submitted by Pat Terry on 05/10/2017 - 01:43 pm.

            Evidence

            I’m not sure where the “not one shred of evidence” bit comes from. If there wasn’t any evidence, they wouldn’t be investigating. Subpoenas don’t get issued without evidence to support them.

            Yes, the evidence will be leaked if there isn’t a real investigation, but that still isn’t the same as having the FBI conduct the investigation.

            • Submitted by cory johnson on 05/10/2017 - 04:20 pm.

              It came from Diane Feinstein…..

              But of course she still wants a special prosecutor so the Democrats can keep this farce going as long as possible.
              Subpoenas are issued to try and find evidence. So far all that’s been found is innuendo which is only good for fundraising.

  8. Submitted by Misty Martin on 05/10/2017 - 11:52 am.

    Watergate Deja vu, anyone?

    I was still in elementary school when the Watergate scandal erupted, but I remember the endless
    news reports on the matter, that I didn’t really understand at the time. But since the media is comparing the firing of Comey to Nixon’s firing of Archibald Cox during the aforesaid scandal, I have been doing some interesting fact-checking. Wow! The “Saturday Night Massacre”, huh?

    Thanks, Eric, I was EAGERLY WAITING all day for your insight into this matter.

    We’ll all stay tuned. Looks to be interesting to say the least.

    • Submitted by cory johnson on 05/10/2017 - 12:21 pm.

      Remind me…

      Did Trump fire a special prosecutor? The left loves comparing anything a
      Republican president does to Nixon. I’m sure someone will be able to weave Hitler in as well. It gets old after a while.

      • Submitted by Tim Walker on 05/10/2017 - 01:04 pm.

        What’s getting old is …

        … Republicans continuing to support a corrupt, incompetent, and infantile leader who is leading this country into the abyss.

        • Submitted by Cynthia Ahlgren on 05/10/2017 - 05:43 pm.

          You forgot “paranoid,” “narcissistic” and “psychopathic.” The president is mentally ill. The Republicans are caught up in the role of enablers of a very dysfunctional executive. An intervention is in order!

      • Submitted by Pat Terry on 05/10/2017 - 01:41 pm.

        Nixon-esque

        Yes, the guy Trump fired who was investigating him was held a different position then the guy Nixon fired. Great distinction.

      • Submitted by Nick Foreman on 05/10/2017 - 01:59 pm.

        Have not reached the need for a special prosecutor

        In 31/2 months – yet! Can’t wait to find out who will be Deep Throat – maybe Comey. Trump may well top Nixon – don’t have to go back any further in history

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/10/2017 - 04:22 pm.

        Nixon/Trump

        Yes the comparisons may be overstated. There are important distinctions between the two.

        One is an insecure paranoiac with authoritarian instincts, who came to power by railing against a caricature of the elites and appealing to the baser natures of the American polity.

        Nixon was from California.

        • Submitted by Paul Brandon on 05/10/2017 - 09:51 pm.

          Nixon

          also won an election.

          • Submitted by cory johnson on 05/11/2017 - 12:04 pm.

            The bitterness displayed in these comments…..

            Is quite sad. The left is grasping at any excuse for Clinton’s defeat. Trump won the most electoral votes. Bringing up the popular vote just makes you look as petty as Trump.

            • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/11/2017 - 01:30 pm.

              Bitterness?

              After the conduct of Republicans during the Obama administration, calling anyone else out for “bitterness” is either chutzpah or amnesia.

              And please–none of the “I’m not a Republican” jive. The “not really Republicans/not really Trump supporters” are enabling Trump while trying to maintain moral distance. You’re fooling no one.

              • Submitted by cory johnson on 05/11/2017 - 01:51 pm.

                Proud Republican here

                Not a big fan of Trump but i do prefer him over a Democrat. Merely pointing out the “Hillary won the popular vote” argument is only useful to make one feel better about losing.

                • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/11/2017 - 03:47 pm.

                  Or . . .

                  It is a way of stating the fact that Trump does not have the support of the electorate, despite being elected.

                  Any sane President would take that knowledge to heart.

      • Submitted by Marc Post on 05/12/2017 - 03:20 pm.

        Tapes!

        Now Trump is talking about tapes! Maybe they’ll be gaps!

        You just can’t make this stuff up.

  9. Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 05/10/2017 - 02:22 pm.

    Why?

    “Days before he was fired, James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director, asked the Justice Department for a significant increase in resources for the bureau’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election, according to four congressional officials, including Senator Richard J. Durbin.

    Mr. Comey made his appeal to Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, who also wrote the Justice Department’s memo that was used to justify the firing of Mr. Comey this week, the officials said.”

    (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/10/us/politics/comey-russia-investigation-fbi.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&clickSource=story-heading&module=a-lede-package-region&region=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0)

    No doubt Trump will spin this as a deficit reduction opportunity.

  10. Submitted by Neal Rovick on 05/10/2017 - 03:01 pm.

    Three interesting sidelights:

    1) Wasn’t Sessions supposed to recuse himself from issues related to the election, Hillary, Trump and Russia ? How come his opinion forms the basis for the firing ?

    2) It wasn’t about Russia of Trump but why have this as the second paragraph of the termination letter “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.” Which, by the way, wasn’t true.

    3) Tweet from the Nixon presidential library”RichardNixonLibrary‏Verified account —
    @NixonLibrary—FUN FACT: President Nixon never fired the Director of the FBI #FBIDirector #notNixonian

  11. Submitted by Connie Sullivan on 05/10/2017 - 03:04 pm.

    Bill Clinton fired the head of the FBI in 1993,

    At the beginning of his first term as President. Why don’t people use that [only FBI Director] firing as the analogy? It’s because Comey is investigating our President himself, and his Administration, for collusion with the Russians in manipulating our American electoral process in 2016. High crimes and misdemeanors! Comey has been very closed-mouthed about the Trump investigation, unlike what he did with the Hillary Clinton investigation.

    We have to remember that the head of the FBI does not make pronouncements about people’s guilt or innocence–at least not until Comey started his habit of doing that. The Department of Justice, in the Attorney General’s office, decides who gets prosecuted. So Comey was doing something extraordinary when he talked publicly about the Hillary Clinton investigation and announced that he himself had concluded that there were no criminal actions to prosecute. The Director of the FBI doesn’t get to make that call! [See any episode of “Law and Order” to discern who determines charging on whose investigation.]

    By breaking protocol and all historical precedent in speaking publicly about the Clinton investigation’s findings, Comey was way out of line. Why did he do that? Intervening in the election was not his job, but he did that, in July of 2016. He did that because he wanted to cover his own ass, with Republicans, because Comey thought that, surely, Donald Trump could never become president and Republicans would dump on Comey’s FBI for not continuing to torture the Clinton case to their satisfaction.

    Comey’s second intervention in the presidential election was–last July–not to reveal that the FBI was actively investigating Trump’s ties to the Russian government. His third intervention was in late October when, astonishingly, he announced to great fanfare that the FBI was reopening the Clinton email investigation (all they had was automatic back-up copies of emails that had already been thoroughly viewed). No one has ever done that kind of thing within ten days of the election! Comey then intervened a fourth time, to say that the FBI found nothing in the back-up emails.

    Donald Trump thought all Comey’s 2016 interventions a hilarious (pun intended) good time.Trump made jokes. He had Steve Miller and crew lead campaign rally chants to “Lock her up!”

    But now Trump is really, really afraid that Comey, known to be a loose-cannon FBI head, would reveal truths about Donald Trump. The icing on that sour-tasting cake? The “mildly nauseous” feeling Comey has every time he thinks his actions helped Trump get elected President. Of course Trump got furious at that. The firing was un-consulted with anyone, and devised by Jeff Sessions, who is supposed to keep his hands off anything that has to do with the Trump-and-the-Russians investigation. I think Sessions broke that rule here.

    This is pure autocrat’s snit. Related to the FBI investigating him. Trump revealed as much in his letter to Comey.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/12/2017 - 07:34 am.

      Danger ahead

      “But now Trump is really, really afraid that Comey, known to be a loose-cannon FBI head, would reveal truths about Donald Trump.” Isn’t Comey more dangerous for Trump if he is not under his command and may reveal anything he wants?

  12. Submitted by Jon Kingstad on 05/10/2017 - 04:23 pm.

    Why now?

    The issue is not whether Comey was political and there were valid reasons to replace him: The issue is why now before the FBI has completed an investigation of Trump and the Trump campaign? As Eric says, Trump’s reasons for firing Comey are entirely unconvincing, to say the least after he’s given every indication since the election and the inauguration that Comey had his full confidence.

    Trump’s action, abetted by no less than the Attorney General and his Assistant to create a misleading appearance that this was not Trump’s own plan has all the earmarks of an attempt to interfere with a federal investigation of the very persons who instigated the firing. Understandably, the Republicans want to avoid another Watergate this time sweeping it all under the rug and pretending this is about partisanship. This will not go away until an Independent Counsel is appointed and clears Trump and his crew or brings charges.

  13. Submitted by Ellen Hoerle on 05/10/2017 - 09:55 pm.

    Here’s my theory

    Sessions wanted Comey out because Comey and FBI are zeroing in on Flynn and Sessions knows exactly how deep Flynn and himself are involved with Russia. Sessions waited until Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was confirmed and then ordered him to write a concurring memo to Sessions’. Trump did what he was told to do–fire Comey–because Sessions/Bannon duo told him to do it. I don’t think the investigation will uncover any involvement by Trump with the Russians but all the rest of his circle is in deep and they are so desperate to avoid being exposed for the full depths of their involvement, they’re hoping that by firing Comey, they can buy some time. Trump is just incompetent and situationally unaware of who he is dealing with within his own circle of confidants that he willingly complied, and based on his reading of Clinton’s statements since the election, thought Democrats would be delighted.

    But since 63 million voters refused to hold Trump to any set of ethical, moral, social, or cultural boundaries, will our government institutions survive the collapse of ethical and moral expectations of our POTUS within our electorate? Only time will tell.

  14. Submitted by Joel Stegner on 05/11/2017 - 02:13 am.

    Treason?

    If Trump personally it through his campaign made a deal with the Russian government involving special favors to help him steal the election which Russians fulfilled on their side those involved are guilty of treason,

    Multiple campaign people starting with Manefort took cash payments to further Russian interest in the Ukraine. General Flynn also cashed in. As for Trump, he has received above market payments for real estate from Russians close to the government suspected of money laundering. None of this has been viewed as Trump has refused to release his financial records

    The Russians definitively hacked our election in favor of ztrump as they have the European democracies. Trump himself publicly asked Russia to hack Hillary,

    Of course Trump denies all, as if he admits anything, he is impeached and spend the rest of his life in prison. He had eliminated the only objective review of his actions, He is simply not above the law or the Constitution, not matter what he thinks,

    All that remains is an independent investigation with a secure leader, sufficient investigative powers and adequate funding. Potential treason by a President and his aides are obviously something that needs objective investigation.

    • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/12/2017 - 07:35 am.

      Crime for everyone

      “If Trump personally it through his campaign made a deal with the Russian government involving special favors to help him steal the election which Russians fulfilled on their side those involved are guilty of treason.” True… it is also true about Obama, Clinton, Bush, you and me… IF anyone does it. So what? “The Russians definitively hacked our election in favor of trump as they have the European democracies.” So how did the Russians hack all those elections? Did they help Macron win in France?

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/12/2017 - 12:10 pm.

        Did they help Macron win in France?

        Well, probably not. The French were better prepared:

        https://www.wired.com/2017/05/nsa-director-confirms-russia-hacked-french-election-infrastructure/

        In a hearing of the Senate’s Armed Forces Committee, Rogers indicated that the NSA had warned French cybersecurity officials ahead of the country’s presidential runoff that Russian hackers had compromised some elements of the election. For skeptics, that statement may help tip the balance towards credibly blaming Russia for the attacks.

        “If you take a look at the French election … we had become aware of Russian activity,” Rogers said in response to questions from senator Kirsten Gillibrand about the allegations of Russia hacking the Macron campaign. “We had talked to our French counterparts prior to the public announcements of the events publicly attributed this past weekend and gave them a heads-up: ‘Look, we’re watching the Russians, we’re seeing them penetrate some of your infrastructure.’”

        • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/13/2017 - 02:55 pm.

          Why

          So why were we not prepared?

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 05/14/2017 - 06:00 pm.

            Good Question

            Perhaps we were relying on President Putin respecting the sovereignty of the United States. That looks to have been a mistake.

            • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/15/2017 - 07:28 am.

              Why

              I see… But remember America had not been prepared for Putin’s intervention in our election when Obama was our president. So why was Obama relying on Putin’s respect for our sovereignty?

  15. Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/11/2017 - 07:30 am.

    Investigations

    “My best guess (it’s only a guess) is that Trump feels he needs guaranteed loyalists in every position that might have influence over the ongoing investigation of the Trump-Russia-interference-in-the-election matter.” “Meanwhile, the question of whether Trump colluded with the Russian efforts to help him win the presidency remains. Several Trump associates are up to their neck in Russian connections. Personally, I go back and forth in my hunches over whether Trump was actively involved in the Russian collusion. Certainly nothing has been proven along those lines, but there’s a lot of smoke that might indicate fire.” Can anyone please explain to me how that supposed Trump-Putin collusion would look like? I can’t think of any but I may be missing something… On the other hand, wasn’t Obama’s promising Putin to be more accommodating after elections collusion?

    I am also missing something about investigation. The whole thread here is that Trump fired Comey because he (Trump) is under investigation by him (Comey). But didn’t Trump say in his letter that he appreciated Comey’s telling him that he (Trump) was not under investigation? On the other hand, why didn’t Obama fully investigate Trump’s Russian connections? He had plenty of time… And why is this Russian interference so much worse than annexing Crimea, saving Assad (first with fake promise of chemical weapons elimination and then bombing poor Syrians), and threatening Europe? I don’t remember much of a concern from the Democrats at that time… Of course, the last time I heard so much and so consistently about the interference of another country in the internal affairs was back in the Soviet Union, only it was America which was accused of interfering in everything.

    I also wonder, if Democrats’ dream comes true and Trump is impeached, would they be happy with Pence’s presidency?

    • Submitted by Sean Olsen on 05/11/2017 - 11:38 am.

      What could collusion look like? Well, it might look like the Russian Ambassador meeting with Trump campaign officials at the Republican Convention in Cleveland where the Trump team then softened the platform language on Ukraine. Then, a couple of days later, the DNC e-mail dump (stolen by Russian hackers) happens. Is that merely a coincidence? Maybe or maybe not. But that’s what collusion could look like, and why we need an investigation given the list of Trump associates who have lied about their Russian contacts.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/12/2017 - 07:36 am.

        I suppose… except a party platform is irrelevant in real life after elections and Obama didn’t give weapons to Ukraine either… Was he bought out by Putin?

    • Submitted by Harris Goldstein on 05/11/2017 - 10:32 pm.

      What could collusion look like? How about:
      Russians – We have some embarrassing emails from the Clinton campaign.
      Trump Campaign – If you can make those public, we’ll certainly be a more friendly administration.
      Russians – We pass those on the Wikileaks.

      Now, in reality, the discussion would be a bit more subtle than that, but collusion is certainly possible. I actually don’t think Trump was personally involved, but do think it was done by others with his (at least) tacit approval.

      Trump did say in his letter that Comey told him he was not under investigation. But that’s since been called into question. And if take what Trump says at face value, you haven’t been paying attention.

      Why didn’t Obama fully investigate the possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign? Because that would have crossed a line and potentially interfered with an election. It’s called integrity.

      Why is this Russian interference in our election worse than their prior misdeeds? Because it strikes at the heart of what we hold dearest. And if a foreign adversary can tip an election toward a candidate that will be friendly (or friendlier) toward them, we are in deep, deep (you know what). I’ll put it another way: If you had the power to assign electoral college votes for our president, how many votes would you give Vladimir Putin?

      Happier with Pence? Don’t know. On the one hand, Pence is actually much more conservative than Trump and more politically competent. On the other hand, he is more rational. I suppose if Trump keeps up this bungling, but doesn’t create some grave crisis, we’re better off with Trump. But I’d rather have Pence’s finger on the button.

      • Submitted by Ilya Gutman on 05/13/2017 - 02:56 pm.

        Thank you for taking time to go over all items – a rarity.

        Promising to be friendlier is a non-promise – Trump said it openly during his campaign. Don’t we want to be friendly with all countries if they are? Plus, Obama and Clinton started very friendly with Russia and remained friendly to get Iran and Syria deals – no liberal complained at that time…
        Yes, Trump has sometime said questionable things but is there a reason to think that this particular one is a lie?

        “Why didn’t Obama fully investigate the possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign? Because that would have crossed a line and potentially interfered with an election. It’s called integrity.” If Trump indeed colluded with Putin and Obama knew it and chose not to do a thing, it is not an integrity, it’s an abdication of duties.

        “Why is this Russian interference in our election worse than their prior misdeeds? Because it strikes at the heart of what we hold dearest.” Do you mean that lives of tens of thousands of people that Putin killed are not dear to us? That we care only about what happens in America?

  16. Submitted by Joe Musich on 05/11/2017 - 08:51 pm.

    No denying that …

    there is a lot of events out there that look highly suspicious. That would be unless you are wearing blinders. Blinders are fixed to horses because of the eye structure. Their eyes are on the sides of their heads. Eyes in this place are usually an indication that the animal is hunted. So horses being raced have blinders to keep them focused on the path in the race. They are highly susceptible to distraction as are bunnies for the same anatomical reasons. They are the hunted. So when it is suggested that Potus needs loyalists I understand that it may come from a similar place. He wants people aside him who are also feeling like prey. And I don’t mean pray.

  17. Submitted by Misty Martin on 05/12/2017 - 08:53 am.

    I just read this online, and it’s SO GOOD!

    This was tweeted earlier: Kevin Spacey’s character on House of Cards said: “When you’re fresh meat, kill and throw them something fresher.”

    Enough said.

  18. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/16/2017 - 08:53 am.

    The spookiest thing to come out of this…

    Sorry if someone has already pointed this out, but I haven’t had a chance to read all the comments. The spookiest thing to come Comey’s firing if you ask me is Trumps declaration (via tweet of course) that we have no business expecting to receive reliable information from the White House.

    His threat to suspend press briefings and resort to written statement only flew out of frustration with the media expectation for accurate information. He actually declared that in “fast moving” administrations like his (as if his presidency, which has done less and remains largely un-staffed) is faster moving than other administrations.

    Furthermore, one has to recall all the Republican broo-ha-ha over Benghazi… remember Benghazi! Much was made by Republicans out of the fact some early reports were inaccurate. When Obama explained that they actually had an unanticipated emergency, on the other side of the world, with limited or no real-time communication… Republican’s howled at the absurdity of such a claim. Here we have an administration describing it’s own deliberate and presumably well-considered actions INSIDE the White House as if it was something that happened to them, like Benghazi. Talk about absurd. And to be told that it’s unrealistic to expect reliable information from the President or the White House is epitome of incompetence. This isn’t lowering the bar, it’s dropping the bar on the floor and it offend the idea of democratic government.

  19. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 05/16/2017 - 11:38 am.

    And of course NOW

    Trump is literally claiming he has a right to give classified information to the Russians (who are clearly not “friendly” actors at this point) and give misinformation to the American people.

    Trump’s dance with the Russians is creeping closer and closer towards an impeachable offense (i.e. abuse of power and authority, and contempt for Congress or obstructing justice). The current batch of Republicans clearly lack the integrity and honor required to hold this president accountable, but in two years things could change dramatically.

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