National shockwaves ensued after President Trump’s precipitated verdict reached news outlets. Trump’s decision to discharge F.B.I. director James B. Comey, the law enforcement official conducting a criminal investigation into the Trump administration’s ties with the Russian government and the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, came at a time of intensified Russian inquiries.
Arguably the man that may have ensured his presidential victory, Comey was a double-edged sword: he was also one of the greatest threats to Trump’s presidency.
In a letter to Comey, President Trump said he acted on “clear recommendations” from senior Justice Department officials who said Comey’s handling of Hillary Clinton’s private emails had jeopardized the credibility of the F.B.I. and Justice Department.
In a juxtaposing manner, Trump has both condemned and praised Comey. But after his verdict, Democrats turned the tables on Trump, causing a greater backlash amongst those already skeptical toward the Trump administration.
“The Democrats have said some of the worst things about James Comey, including the fact that he should be fired, but now they play so sad,” wrote Trump in a Twitter post.
During a hearing in March, Comey confirmed the existence of an open F.B.I. investigation on Russian links to the Trump administration.
On May 3rd, Comey testified on Capitol Hill, saying that his decision to notify Congress about the Clinton emails made him “mildly nauseous” in thinking about the impact it might have had on the election. That same day, Trump tweeted out by censuring the Russia-Trump collusion story and deemed it a hoax.
In the following days, White House press secretary Sean Spicer released a statement confirming Trump’s basis for firing Comey, to which he said was based on suggestions from Sessions and Rosenstein.
Many believe the impromptu termination stemmed through a timetable that outlined Trump’s frustration with Comey — bottled resentment from Comey’s dismissal of Trump’s wiretapping claims, to which he regarded as “crazy” and his refusal to pledge his loyalty to Trump.
Just four years into his 10-year term as F.B.I. director, with Comey set aside, speculations unraveled regarding the new replacement.
Former F.B.I. director under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, Robert S. Mueller III has been appointed as special counsel to overlook the Russian investigation, drastically raising the pressure. Mueller has been praised for his bipartisan approach and impeccable reputation within legal matters, adequately ensuring the public of his natural tendency to serve the given role without an agenda.
The decision by the Justice Department to appoint a special counsel came about as a result of recurring developments that made the department uneasy about the situations at hand. It was then revealed that Trump asked Comey to halt the investigations of former national security advisor Michael Flynn.
The domino effect of firings only added insult to injury as questions emerged regarding the reasons Trump decided to fire Sally Yates, Preet Bharara, and James Comey. Yates, former Acting Attorney General had been put in place as a temporary replacement for Jeff Sessions.
Trump’s decision to dismiss Comey, an unprecedented move, has only been paralleled once before in the past when Bill Clinton dismissed then F.B.I. Director William Sessions as a result of alleged financial wrongdoings.
In considering the constitutionality of Trump’s act, the “Advice and Consent” clause grants the president power to determine the employment status of people working for the executive branch once approved by Congress. The president therefore does have the power to dismiss an F.B.I. director, even without a reason, as referenced by a report written by the Congressional Research Service in 2014.
Republicans have also raised concerns over Comey’s firing, admitting that he was consistently forthcoming with information, more so than any other F.B.I Director in the past. Upon being nominated by President Obama in 2013, Comey has garnered bipartisan support, visibly seen by an overwhelming confirmation of 93-1 in the Senate.
Andrew G. McCabe is serving as the Acting F.B.I. Director until Comey’s replacement is found. The Trump administration now intensifies its search for a new replacement as cued by the Department of Justice’s decision to appoint a special counsel to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election.