by WorldTribune Staff, May 9, 2017
President Donald Trump on May 9 fired FBI Director James Comey, saying he concurred with the Justice Department that Comey was no longer “able to effectively lead the Bureau.”
“You are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately,” the president’s letter to Comey said.
“How the mighty have fallen,” defense writer Jim Robbins said in a USA Today commentary.
“In March, Comey was hailed as ‘the most powerful person in Washington.’ But those who are tagged ‘most powerful’ have a funny way of quickly being shown up, particularly when they serve at the pleasure of the president,” Robbins, a former Washington Times editorial writer said.
“In Comey’s case, his power supposedly was based on his ongoing investigation into Russian influence on the 2016 presidential election, an investigation which has turned up nothing of great importance, certainly nothing to substantiate charges of Russia “hacking the election.”
“In fact, Comey had been a dead man walking for some time,” Robbins wrote. “He was a director without a constituency. He had tried to strike a balance in a sharply divided political environment and wound up alienating both sides. He had to go.”
The search for Comey’s replacement will begin immediately, the White House said.
In saying a new director was needed to “restore public trust and confidence” in the FBI, Trump said he was following the advice of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Ironically, Comey in recent Congressional testimony also emphasized his concern about public trust in the FBI.
“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,” Trump said in a letter to Comey.
In letters on May 9, both Sessions and Rosenstein said Comey had lost their support.
“I cannot defend the director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken,” Rosenstein wrote in a memo to Sessions.
“Almost everyone agrees that the director made a serious mistake; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.”
Sessions wrote in his own memo that “a fresh start” was needed in order for the Justice Department to “reaffirm its commitment to longstanding principles that ensure the integrity and fairness of federal investigations and prosecutions.”
Rosenstein said Comey was “wrong to usurp” former Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s authority when he took it upon himself to hold a press conference in July to announce that the FBI would not recommend criminal charges against Clinton.
In testimony before Congress last week, Comey insisted that he took the unusual step because he believed that a June 2016 airport tarmac meeting between Lynch and former President Bill Clinton had undermined the Justice Department’s credibility to independently investigate the case.
“A number of things had gone on, which I can’t talk about yet, that made me worry that the department leadership could not credibly complete the investigation and decline prosecution without grievous damage to the American people’s confidence in the justice system,” Comey told senators.
Sen. Bob Casey, Pennsylvania Democrat, said Comey’s firing appeared “Nixonian,” and called on the Justice Department to immediately appoint a special counsel to investigate the ongoing allegations of Democrats of ties between the Trump campaign and Russia’s meddling in the presidential race.
Meanwhile, the White House provided reporters with a document pointing to Democrats’ own complaints with Comey.
Most recently, Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the House intelligence committee, said he thought Comey treated Hillary Clinton badly during the campaign by talking publicly about his investigation into her email account, but shielding from the public his investigation into Trump’s campaign.
“This is an important move to restore public confidence in the fair administration of justice at the Federal level. Mr. Comey did not seem to understand some of the laws he was asked to investigate and unfortunately politicized his sensitive positon as the FBI director. President Trump took the right step in cleaning house at the FBI.”
“This is an important move to restore public confidence in the fair administration of justice at the Federal level,” Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement.
“Mr. Comey did not seem to understand some of the laws he was asked to investigate and unfortunately politicized his sensitive positon as the FBI director. President Trump took the right step in cleaning house at the FBI.”
Presidents have the legal authority to fire FBI directors, who normally serve 10-year terms. Comey was confirmed by the Senate in July 2013, and was nearly four years into his term. He is only the second FBI director in history to be formally terminated, after William S. Sessions, who was fired by Clinton in 1993.
“The FBI is one of our nation’s most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement,” Trump said in a statement.