On Tuesday came the stunning announcement that FBI Director James Comey had been fired from his post—prompting immediate backlash from Democrats and top-ranking Republicans, who believe the move may disrupt an active FBI investigation Comey had been leading, which directly concerns Trump and his team.
Several pundits and politicians have argued that Trump’s sole aim in firing Comey was to undermine this very investigation, which had begun probing into possible ties between Trump’s campaign and the Russian interference that took place in the 2016 election.
"Not since Watergate has a president dismissed the person leading an investigation bearing on him" https://t.co/6F2l9GKSlX
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 10, 2017
Senator Richard Burr, who is the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee, stated in response to the news, “I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination. I have found Director Comey to be a public servant of the highest order, and his dismissal further confuses an already difficult investigation by the Committee.”
He went on to state that Comey’s dismissal was “a loss for the Bureau and the nation.”
But Richard Burr was not the only Republican to come out and criticize this latest development. Senator John McCain also expressed his disappointment, while Rep. Justin Amash described the termination letter Trump had sent to Comey as “bizarre.”
Senator Jeff Flake expressed his concerns about the move as well, writing on Twitter, “I’ve spent the last several hours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of Comey’s firing. I just can’t do it.”
I've spent the last several hours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of Comey's firing. I just can't do it.
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) May 10, 2017
GOP reactions on Comey:
Corker: "raise questions"
Lankford: "need clarity"
— Ryan Struyk (@ryanstruyk) May 10, 2017
The official reason which the White House has cited for Comey’s dismissal was his poor management of the Clinton email scandal, which many believe may have swayed the election in Trump’s favor.
And Comey’s recent gaffe while testifying before Congress, in which he declared that “hundreds and thousands” of emails had been sent by top Clinton aide Huma Abedin to her husband’s computer, when in fact only a handful had been sent, further called the FBI Director’s credibility into question.
The White House also stated that letters from the Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and the Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, which strongly recommended that Comey be released, persuaded Trump into making the final decision to let him go.
But some figures, including the leading Democrat in the Senate, Chuck Schumer, find these motives entirely suspicious. “The first question the administration has to answer is ‘why now,'” Schumer stated at a press conference soon after the news broke. “If the administration had objections to the way Director Comey handled the Clinton investigation, they had those objections the minute the president got into office. But they didn’t fire him then. Why did it happen today?”
The concern on the minds of many here is that Trump may have used the email scandal merely as an excuse to rid himself of Comey, whose position at the head of the FBI investigation into Russia could have made him a potential threat to the administration.
This theory takes on more weight when one considers that during the campaign, candidate Trump praised James Comey multiple times for speaking publicly about the ongoing investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. At one point, he even praised Comey for having the “guts” to share this information regarding Clinton. Those who are now criticizing Trump’s decision to fire Comey argue that the president has been inconsistent, firing the Director for the very same reason he had applauded him only a few months prior.
Rep. Adam B. Schiff, who is overseeing the House Intelligence Committee’s inquiry into Russia’s meddling, stated that Trump’s decision to fire the man leading an investigation against him, “raises profound questions about whether the White House is brazenly interfering in a criminal matter.”
Comey’s deputy Andrew McCabe will stand in as the acting director of the FBI for now, until a permanent director may be found to replace Comey.
[Featured Image by Eric Thayer/Getty Images]