Is this Comeygate?

How do you assess the timing and reasoning of President Donald Trump’s decision to fire FBI Directory James Comey, how do you read this move? Read few comments.

Ex-Director of FBI James Comey. Credit: fbi.gov

Chris Edelson, Assistant Professor of Government, American University

I was shocked to hear that Trump fired Comey.  I believe I will remember this for many years to come.  One of the first things I thought of was the so-called “Saturday Night Massacre” in 1973 when Richard Nixon fired the special prosecutor investigating Watergate.  The 2 situations are not identical, but the common theme is a president who believes he is above the law and is attempting to bring to a halt investigations into his administration.

It is simply not believable that Trump did this because of Comey’s conduct during the 2016 election.  In fact, the administration’s claim that this is why Comey was fired insults the intelligence of Americans.

The timing is clear: the day before Comey was fired, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates gave testimony before a Senate committee that raised serious questions about ties between Russia and Michael Flynn, and also raised questions about how much Trump himself knew.

I am saddened and even depressed that Republicans in Congress are largely lining up behind Trump.  This should not be a partisan issue: it is a question of the rule of law and whether we have a functioning constitutional democracy in the United States.  I hope that Americans will speak up and reject this brazen decision by Trump.

Darrell WestVice President and Director of Governance Studies, The Brookings Institution

The timing of Trump’s decision to fire the FBI director is very suspicious. Comey was leading the investigation into Trump Team’s ties with Russia and he gets fired right after his investigators issue subpoenas for individuals associated with Trump’s former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. The termination appears to be an effort by Trump to stop an investigation that is getting close to home. The president seems to believe if he got rid of Comey, he would stop the Russia investigation. What he doesn’t understand is that this move only will intensify interest in Trump’s Russia connections. Trump is meeting the Russian Foreign Minister today so that meeting will stimulate a lot of questions about what is going on between Trump and Russia. All of this is very costly to Trump personally and politically and it guarantees the Russia investigation will stay on the front pages for months to come.

David BarrettProfessor, Department of Political Science, Villanova University

The timing of the firing of Comey raises grave suspicions. As the NY Times reported today, Comey recently made clear to his superiors at the Justice Department that his investigation into the “Russia connection” to the election was growing and therefore needed additional personnel and budget. As it was an investigation, to a substantial degree, into the Trump presidential campaign, it is hard to believe that this was not a reason for Trump to fire Comey. Trump has the political advantage of firing someone who has been deeply obnoxious to Democrats for many months (due to his announcements re: Clinton, during the campaign), who are now in the position of criticizing his firing.

Michael Desch, Professor, Director, International Security Center, University of Notre Dame

No doubt that former Director Comey was a divisive figure inside and outside the FBI but the timing of this move, in the midst of ongoing investigations of Russian meddling in the last presidential election, is really unfortunate. This may have been the right move but it was certainly taken at the wrong time and in a ham-handed way.

Aki Peritz, Former CIA Analyst, Senior Fellow, Center for Cyber and Homeland Security, George Washington University

It is a very troubling development to remove the senior law enforcement official in the middle of multiple investigations into the Trump White House. A confident President would not have done this.

 

 

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