In My Humble Opinion … (May 2017)
Many are drawing very close comparisons between Trump’s firing of Comey and Nixon’s firing of Archibald Cox during Watergate. There is one major difference, however. Nixon could not fire Cox directly. He had to fire two attorneys general (Richardson and Ruckelshaus) before he could find one (Robert Bork) who would fire Cox. In Trump’s case, he was able to avoid the middle man and just fire Comey himself.
There are certainly other differences as well. The Russia investigations have nowhere nearly gotten to the point where Nixon was when he acted. However, the situations are nonetheless strikingly similar.
I certainly was not a big fan of Comey. In many respects, he got what he had coming to him. A lot of people, on both sides of the political spectrum, feel the same way. But the way it was done, the timing of when it was done and most certainly the incredulous reasoning that was given for his firing, are all pure Trump.
In my view, one of Comey’s two most egregious errors came first in July when he had his press conference to announce that in his view, there was not enough evidence to charge Hillary of any crimes. But he didn’t just leave it there. He also took it upon himself to editorialize and say loudly and clearly that she was “extremely careless” in her use of the private server. Where the Hell does it say in his job description that he has the authority, much less the expectation, to say something like that? My understanding is that the FBI’s job is to investigate and then to either recommend prosecution or not – and that’s it. But the Republicans, even though incensed that Hillary was not being charged, still grabbed onto that “extremely careless” quote like a lion with a piece of bloody meat.
The second of Comey’s primary errors came just 11 days prior to the election when he most famously sent the letter to Congress stating that the email investigation was being reopened (or continued) due to the revelation of emails on Huma Abedin’s own personal server. At the time, it was clear that was going to at the very least dominate the narrative of the election for those last eleven days, if not directly affect the final outcome of the vote. The fact that it was announced a few days before Nov 7th that nothing was found on Abedin’s server was way too little and too late to correct the damage that had been done.
Oh, and by the way, candidate Trump praised Comey effusively at the time for the courage that he displayed in sending that letter to Congress. He has now fired Comey citing the release of that same letter as part of the reason that he fired him.
Comey just dug the hole even deeper for himself during his recent public testimony before the Senate. During that testimony, he used one of the single most self-serving interpretations of the English language when he described his decision to announce the reopening of the Clinton email investigation. He said his choice was to “speak” or to “conceal”. “Hey, my choice was either to lie, or to tell the truth. Which do you think I should have done?”
Hardly, Jimbo. The decision was to either comply with the longstanding governmental policy to, if at all possible, not do anything to possibly influence a pending election, or to decide not to comply with that policy.
The reasoning Trump has used that it was Comey’s treatment of the Hillary Clinton email investigation months ago which was the reason he was fired now is completely laughable – even with the bar for laughability being set so high in Trump’s case. Trump now claims to be mortified at the treatment of Hillary by Comey? That is so preposterous, it defies any type of additional comment.
Let’s the weigh the possibilities.
- Trump feels that Comey failed to perform his job properly which resulted in the mistreatment of Hillary.
- That is certainly true on its face value, but given Trump’s total contempt for “crooked Hillary”, is it believable that would bother Trump in the least?
- Trump fires Comey the day after Sally Yates testifies and within a couple of days after Comey asked for increased personnel and funding to step up the investigation.
- Trump and his surrogates have said for days on end that the Russia story is Fake News, and that it should end and stop wasting taxpayer money.
Which option passes the smell test for you?
(Update: 5/11/2017. Trump himself admits this was never about Clinton or accepting the recommendation of the Asst. Attorney General. He admits that he was going to fire Comey regardless and that he was thinking that the Russia story is Fake News so this may help it go away. Fat chance of that.)
At least Comey tried to use, or should I say twist, the English language to explain his actions. In Trump’s case, he does not even bother. Trump has been telling us for so long that black is not really black – it is white, and that 2 + 2 equals 22, that he doesn’t even bother to try and fool us anymore. He simply lies, and continues to lie some more, knowing that he has been doing this for so long and that he still was elected President anyway, that he thinks he is completely untouchable.
Perhaps this will finally push enough Republicans over the edge to demand a special prosecutor or at least an independent investigation (if there can be such a thing any longer). But even that still ultimately rests in the hands of Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan, so don’t hold your breath waiting for that to happen anytime soon.
So, so long to James Comey. I shed no tears for his departure. But as only Trump can do (well, maybe not only Trump, but he certainly does it the best), he has turned something generally positive into something monumentally negative.