FBI Chief James Comey Was Fired Days After Reportedly Seeking Resources for Russia Investigation
This post was originally published Tuesday.
Update: Wednesday, 8:45 a.m. PDT: New reports indicate that several days before being fired by President Trump, James Comey had asked the Justice Department for increased resources to aid in the FBI’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. The New York Times writes:
Mr. Comey asked for the resources during a meeting last week with Rod J. Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who wrote the Justice Department’s memo that was used to justify the firing of the F.B.I. director this week.
Mr. Comey then briefed members of Congress on the meeting in recent days.
The Times notes that this new evidence comes from “three officials with knowledge of his request.”
Update: Tuesday, 4:29 p.m. PDT: Anthony Romero, head of the American Civil Liberties Union, and Edward Snowden, National Security Agency contractor-turned-whistleblower, both commented publicly about Comey’s firing after the news broke. Romero offered his thoughts in a statement:
The independence of the FBI director is meant to ensure that the president does not operate above the law. For President Trump to fire the man responsible for investigating his own campaign’s ties to the Russians imperils that fundamental principle.
Regardless of how one judges the performance of James Comey in either the Hillary Clinton or Russia investigations, President Trump’s dismissal of a sitting FBI director raises serious alarm bells for our system of checks and balances.
The terms of FBI directors were purposefully structured to span across sitting presidents to ensure the FBI’s independence and insulate the bureau from partisan politics. President Trump’s dismissal of Comey raises questions about the administration’s inappropriate meddling in bureau operations — precisely at a time when the bureau appears to be investigating the president, his advisors, and his campaign for potential collusion with Russian agents in our last election.
Meanwhile, Snowden sounded off on President Trump’s favored platform — Twitter:
This FBI Director has sought for years to jail me on account of my political activities. If I can oppose his firing, so can you. https://t.co/zUp5kquy8q
— Edward Snowden (@Snowden) May 9, 2017
* * *
He weathered a contentious election season — to which he added no small measure of conflict — and the tumultuous transition that ensued from the Obama administration to the Trump White House, but as of Tuesday, FBI Director James Comey was obliged to step down from his post.
The reason? According to officials from the current regime, it once again came down to Hillary Clinton’s infamous emails.
The New York Times relayed word that President Trump fired Comey over his handling of the investigation into the former secretary of state’s use of a private email server for State Department-related communications:
Comey was leading an investigation into whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
“While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau,” Mr. Trump said in a letter to Mr. Comey dated Tuesday. White House officials refused to say anything more about the three occasions Mr. Trump cited.
The officials said that Attorney General Jeff Sessions and the deputy attorney general, Rod J. Rosenstein, pushed for Mr. Comey’s dismissal. But many in Washington, including veteran F.B.I. officers, saw a carefully choreographed effort by the president to create a pretense for a takedown of the president’s F.B.I. tormentor.
… Reaction in Washington was swift and fierce. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said the firing could make Americans suspect a cover-up. Mr. Trump lashed back later Tuesday night in a Twitter post: “Cryin’ Chuck Schumer stated recently, ‘I do not have confidence in him (James Comey) any longer.’ Then acts so indignant.”
Many Republicans assailed the president for making a rash decision that could have deep implications for their party. Representative Justin Amash, Republican of Michigan, said on Twitter that he now supports an independent commission to investigate the Russia links to Mr. Trump. He called Mr. Trump’s claim that Mr. Comey had cleared him three times “bizarre.”
The paper also reported that the newly installed Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein advised the president to oust Comey.
–Posted by Kasia Anderson