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5/10/2017 4:53 am  #1

In Trump’s Firing of James Comey, Echoes of Watergate

In Trump’s Firing of James Comey, Echoes of Watergate

WASHINGTON — In dramatically casting aside James B. Comey, President Trump fired the man who may have helped make him president — and the man who potentially most threatened the future of his presidency.

Not since Watergate has a president dismissed the person leading an investigation bearing on him, and Mr. Trump’s decision late Tuesday afternoon drew instant comparisons to the “Saturday Night Massacre” in October 1973, when President Richard M. Nixon ordered the firing of Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor looking into the so-called third-rate burglary that would eventually bring Nixon down.

In his letter firing Mr. Comey, the F.B.I. director, Mr. Trump made a point of noting that Mr. Comey had three times told the president that he was not under investigation, Mr. Trump’s way of pre-emptively denying that his action was self-interested. But in fact, he had plenty at stake, given that Mr. Comey had said publicly that the bureau was investigating Russia’s meddling in last year’s presidential election and whether any associates of Mr. Trump’s campaign were coordinating with Moscow.

The decision stunned members of both parties, who saw it as a brazen act sure to inflame an already politically explosive investigation. For all his unconventional actions in his nearly four months as president, Mr. Trump still has the capacity to shock, and the notion of firing an F.B.I. director in the middle of such an investigation crossed all the normal lines.

Mr. Trump may have assumed that Democrats so loathed Mr. Comey because of his actions last year in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server that they would support or at least acquiesce to the dismissal. But if so, he miscalculated, as Democrats rushed to condemn the move and demand that a special counsel be appointed to ensure that the Russia investigation be independent of the president.

The move exposed Mr. Trump to the suspicion that he has something to hide and could strain his relations with fellow Republicans who may be wary of defending him when they do not have all the facts. Many Republicans issued cautious statements on Tuesday, but a few expressed misgivings about Mr. Comey’s dismissal and called for a special congressional investigation or independent commission to take over from the House and Senate Intelligence Committees now looking into the Russia episode.

The appointment of a successor to Mr. Comey could touch off a furious fight since anyone Mr. Trump would choose would automatically come under suspicion. A confirmation fight could easily distract Mr. Trump’s White House at a time when it wants the Senate to focus on passing legislation to repeal former President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Mr. Trump did little to help his case by arguing that he was dismissing Mr. Comey over his handling of the investigation into Mrs. Clinton’s email, given that he vowed as a candidate to throw her in prison if he won. Few found it plausible that the president was truly bothered by Mr. Comey’s decision to publicly announce days before the election that he was reopening the case, a move Mrs. Clinton and other Democrats have said tilted the election toward Mr. Trump.

“It’s beyond credulity to think that Donald Trump fired Jim Comey because of the way he handled Hillary Clinton’s emails,” John D. Podesta, who was Mrs. Clinton’s campaign chairman, said in an interview. “Now more than ever, it’s time for an independent investigation.”

Mr. Podesta noted that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recommended the dismissal. “The attorney general who said he recused himself on all the Russia matters recommended the firing of the F.B.I. director in charge of investigating the Russia matters,” he said.

The Watergate comparison was unavoidable. When Mr. Cox, the special prosecutor, subpoenaed Nixon for copies of White House tapes, the president ordered that he be fired. Both Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy, William Ruckelshaus, refused and resigned instead. The third-ranking Justice Department official, Solicitor General Robert H. Bork, complied with Mr. Nixon’s order and fired Mr. Cox.

Democrats saw parallels. “This is Nixonian,” Senator Bob Casey, Democrat of Pennsylvania, said in a statement.

“Not since Watergate have our legal systems been so threatened and our faith in the independence and integrity of those systems so shaken,” added Senator Richard Blumenthal, Democrat of Connecticut.

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 

5/10/2017 6:37 am  #2

Re: In Trump’s Firing of James Comey, Echoes of Watergate

What goes around, comes around ! 

"Do not confuse motion and progress, A rocking horse keeps moving but does not make any progress"

5/10/2017 6:41 am  #3

Re: In Trump’s Firing of James Comey, Echoes of Watergate

Funny story:
Apparently the director of the Nixon Presidential Library has complained about Donald Trump's actions being described as Nixonian.
After all, he points out, Nixon never fired the head of the FBI. 

We live in a time in which decent and otherwise sensible people are surrendering too easily to the hectoring of morons or extremists. 
     Thread Starter

5/10/2017 3:09 pm  #4

Re: In Trump’s Firing of James Comey, Echoes of Watergate

James Comey is 'a canary in the coal mine' of Donald Trump presidency, lawyers warned in November

James Comey is 'a canary in the coal mine' of Donald Trump presidency, lawyers warned in November
If Donald Trump sacked FBI director James Comey it would "strike a blow against an important check on the modern presidency", lawyers warned in November.

Two days after he won the November election, research fellows at influential think-tank the Brookings Institution wrote on its Lawfare legal blog, that Mr Comey's fate was a key indication of the state of the government.

"Were Trump to fire Comey it would be a serious aberration; if he were to do so for mere political preference, in retaliation for Comey’s professional judgement that Clinton should not be prosecuted, or out of fear of Comey’s independence it would strike a blow against an important check on the modern presidency," authors Benjamin Wittes and Susan Hennessey warned.

"And nobody who believes in the rule of law, even those most angry at Comey, should be hoping for it right now."

At the time it was written, Mr Comey was facing heavy criticism from the Democratic Party for releasing a letter days before the presidential election which said the FBI had reopened an investigation into the private email server that Hillary Clinton used as secretary of state.

Ms Clinton has subsequently said she took responsibility for her election loss but believes the investigation played a key part in her defeat.

The article has received renewed attention in the wake of the President's firing of Mr Comey, which critics of the Trump administration have said is evidence of corruption.

At the time of his dismissal, Mr Comey was leading an investigation into alleged collusion between Russia and Mr Trump's campaign team.

The lawyers said: "For those concerned that President Trump will trample the rule of law — liberals and conservatives alike — Comey’s fate is one potential canary in the coal mine.

"If Trump chooses replace Comey with a sycophantic yes-man, or if he permits Comey to resign over law or principle, that will be a clear bellwether to both the national security and civil libertarian communities that things are going terribly wrong."

After firing the FBI director, Mr Trump announced on Twitter: "James Comey will be replaced by someone who will do a far better job, bringing back the spirit and prestige of the FBI."


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