This morning, we posed a question about the news, now we’re posting the best comments. Join the conversation!
The Question of the Day was: Was Trump right or wrong to fire his former FBI Director? From the comments, here are the Answers of the Day…
I have no idea what machinations roll about in Bannon’s head. But Comey needed to go. Trump asked him numerous times if the investigation was involving the President and Comey said no … in private … but wouldn’t publicly acknowledge that fact. He works at the pleasure of the President. He was way too much of a publicity hound for that position. Trump maintained the investigation would proceed without Comey, as it has, and then he fired him. The Democrats hated Comey until they thought they could use him against Trump. Then, all the sudden he was their hero. I do not understand why Sessions hasn’t indicted Comey yet for leaking classified info. But that may yet happen.
May turn out to be the biggest own goal in recent POTUS history. Time to fire Comey was Day One, when the Director was living in a political no man’s land. But after Sessions’ recusal from fighting back against the Russiagating and the appointment of Rosenstein, an accomplished and ethical man from swamp creatureland, what was Trump thinking? Was Sessions unable to get any feedback from Rosenstein on possible Special Counsel candidates? If Sessions boxed himself out this hermetically from informal channels, he should have resigned.
Comey to Mueller is a jump from a simmering pan to the fire. From oversight by a minimally competent, drama queen with little credibility to a Special Counsel with first-class legal skills, unrivaled domestic intelligence access and a commanding DC reputation.
This could end very badly. A few key GOP senators are not going to convince Trump to wave goodbye, step on a helicopter, and fly away.
Was Trump right to fire Comey? There’s a good argument to be made that it was the right thing to do. (See the previous comments.)
Doing the right thing in the wrong way can be a bigger mistake than not doing that thing at all. That’s what happened here. Not only was the timing bad, as many have pointed out, but the process was completely bungled. Announcing that Comey was fired before letting him know and while he was out of DC entirely was both unprofessional and stupid. Not informing the White House PR staff in advance was another failure. And finally, the constantly changing explanations for the firing completely ruined it for the President. This might be the only time I’ll ever say it, but Steve Bannon is right. The huge mistake was not what was done, but how.
I agree with those who commented that the timing and manner of the firing was the problem. The time to do it was on Jan. 20. I fear that the time may come when Trump decides that IRS Commissioner Koskinen finally needs to go, but firing him now will also create problems, when it would have been easy to do so, and should have been done, on Jan. 20.
The primary imperative for any administration is to avoid appointment of a special counsel, who is then free to create continued havoc until they find a crime with which to charge someone with. Clinton did not want a special counsel appointed to investigate Whitewater, but felt politically unable to stop Janet Reno who appointed counsel and then, when the independent counsel law was renewed, ended up a with three judge panel appointing Ken Starr.
The Bush Administration, with Ashcroft’s silly recusal, allowed Comey to appoint Fitzpatrick as counsel to lead a witch hunt against Dick Cheney.
The Obama administration learned the lesson and, with stalwarts Holder and Lynch in place at DOJ, could be confident they would never recuse themselves or appoint special counsel themselves even for matters where the conflict was obvious and cried out for special counsel such as Fast & Furious, IRS and the Clinton emails.
While the firing of Comey was the proximate cause of the appointment of Mueller as special counsel (it occurred the week following the firing), the root cause is the failure of the Trump Administration to think ahead when it was appointing Sessions as AG. It should have been obvious by then that the Democrats and their media cheering section were using the Russian allegations to maneuver the appointment of a special counsel. Assurances should have been sought from Sessions or anyone else that they would not recuse under any circumstances. Since Trump doesn’t understand how the federal government works or the history of special counsels I wouldn’t have expected him to bring up the issue, but wasn’t there someone on his team with enough knowledge and ability to think ahead on this?