Look, let’s get serious here; the firing of FBI Director James Comey by President Trump while the director is in the midst of an investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia is not normal.
Senator John McCain called Trump’s actions “unprecedented,” The Washington Post reports (May 10). “Probably the most respected individual in all of the American government is probably the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation,” McCain said.
But, let’s take a moment and go back in time.
On June 30, 2016, while traveling, former President Bill Clinton met with then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch while Lynch’s plane was on the tarmac at the same airport. Lynch said the conversation was about grandchildren. However, all of this occurred while the FBI and Justice department were conducting an investigation into Secretary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server.
Improper meeting? You bet! And candidate Trump wasted no time in attacking candidate Hillary Clinton.
“…terrible …horrible. I think it’s one of the biggest stories of this week, of this month, of this year.”
Flash forward to yesterday’s (May 11), interview between President Trump and NBC News Anchor Lester Holt.
Regarding his conversations with then-FBI Director Comey about the Trump campaign’s possible involvement with Russian government officials, Trump said, “I actually asked him. I said, if it’s possible would you let me know, am I under investigation? He said, ‘You are not under investigation.’ ”
A sitting president, by his own admission, directly asking the director of the FBI about an on-going investigation.
Improper? You bet!
In a follow-up with legal and ethics experts, NBC reported, “ ‘There generally shouldn’t be communications about pending investigations and if you need an explanation why, see: Watergate, basically,’ said Kathleen Clark, an ethics expert at Washington University’s School of Law.”
“Former federal prosecutors and government ethics experts said the president and FBI director should never discuss pending investigations, at least in the way Trump described it…” NBC said.
While, we don’t know if this is yet another example of Trump’s misunderstandings, here’s what we do know. Director Comey and the FBI have an active, on-going investigation into possible complicity between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
Since the surprise Tuesday night firing of Director Comey numerous stories have been put forth as to why. The first, put forth by White House officials and surrogates, said that President Trump was simply following the recommendations of both Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein.
Rosenstein based his reasoning on Comey’s handling of the Clinton e-mail investigation. However, Attorney General Sessions, who had already recused himself from decision-making due to his contact with Russian officials during the Trump campaign, somehow felt it necessary to write a cover letter attached to Rosenstein’s memo to President Trump saying that he agrees with his deputy’s reasoning.
Clearly, the attorney general has not recused himself in the matter.
My question for Rosenstein: why would you conduct your own personal assessment of FBI Director Comey’s actions regarding Clinton when an investigation by the Inspector General’s office is already underway?
Throughout the entire evening and next morning, the White House defended the firing by saying that Trump was simply following the recommendation of Rosenstein.
We now know from Trump’s own words, that this isn’t true.
Trump told Holt that he was going to fire Comey “regardless of recommendation.”
While it’s typical Trump to make contradictory statements in the media, what Trump may not realize is how these contradictions undermine the credibility of his own staff including Vice-President Pence.
What’s more, while Congress is reeling from reactions to the Comey firing, President Trump holds a private meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak, and the only press allowed into the Oval Office to cover that meeting was Russian press. NO American press were allowed.
Meanwhile, the list of Republicans questioning the president’s decision is growing. Forty Republicans have “questions or concerns,” The New York Times writes (May11) and six are calling for “an independent investigation.” Among them, Senator John McCain, Representatives Justin Amash, Mike Coffman, Barbara Comstock, Carlos Curbelo, and Erik Paulsen.
CBS News reports (May 11), that “Twenty state attorneys general are calling on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel in the federal investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.”
“This scandal is going to go on,” Senator McCain told a meeting of the Munich Security Conference core group. “This is a centipede. I guarantee you there will be more shoes to drop… There’s just too much information that we don’t have that will be coming out.”
As for the current status of the FBI’s investigation, Acting Director Andrew McCabe told a Senate panel, “Simply put, you cannot not stop the men and women of the FBI from doing the right thing. We don’t curtail our activities. We continue to focus on our mission to get the job done.”
Meanwhile, in Marshalltown, Iowa, CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds asked Trump supporter Veridee Hand, “If [FBI investigations conclude that] the Russians worked with Trump to get Trump elected, is that troubling to you?”
Hand’s response, “No.”