This week has been all about James Comey, the (former) director of the FBI.
Back in the last few weeks of the 2016 election, Comey made waves by revealing that the FBI would be broadening its investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Due to the tight race, this caused many Democrats to accuse him of meddling in the election. Trump praised him for his actions at the time.
Comey spoke at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing about his actions, remarking that he felt “mildly nauseous” at the thought that his actions may have interfered in the presidential race. However, he also said that if he had to do it all over again, he would not change his choices.
After the election, it came to light that the FBI had also been investigating the Trump campaign for its alleged ties to Russia. These ties became even more suspect after the public discovered that Michael Flynn, the now-former National Security Advisor to Trump, had spoken to Russian officials about future policy prior to Trump’s inauguration. As he was not an official of the US government at the time, this was illegal and eventually forced him to leave his post. Comey pledged to continue the investigation, and has been doing so—until now.
Just this week, Trump fired Comey. Poor Comey found out via the TV playing the news behind him while he was briefing some of his staff. The official reasoning behind the termination was Comey’s handling of the Clinton investigation. However, various Trump aides and even Trump himself have contradicted this story.
Comey’s firing is weird. That’s the only word I can think of to describe it. For one thing, while his actions during the campaign might have been unprofessional, it ultimately helped Trump. So why he would want to get rid of this guy is beyond me. For another, even if Trump is not involved with Russia in the slightest, this certainly makes him look like he is.
Again, I’m not saying that Trump has colluded or is colluding with Russia. But when he fired Comey, the man investigating him, he raised a few red flags.
I’ll admit it. When Comey possibly changed the course of the election—and the course of the first few years of my adulthood—I wanted nothing more than to see him fired. But it’s deeply unsettling to me now that it’s happened.
- Trump now has the ability to pick the next FBI director. Let me rephrase that: a man under investigation by the FBI gets to pick the next man to investigate him. There’s nothing unjust about that.
- FBI directors serve ten years terms and are meant to be impartial. President Obama—a liberal—appointed Comey—a conservative—because he did not want to look like he was being partisan.
Of course, with a scandal like this, every political commentator is making comparisons to Nixon. The real problem isn’t a Nixon-like Trump, though; it’s a Congress that is decidedly not like the one during Nixon’s time. If push comes to shove, and Trump does something unforgiveable, will leaders like Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan stand up to him?
If things keep going the way they are, I suppose we’ll see.