Firing Comey

President Trump lost me when he fired FBI Director James Comey.  Comey may have made some mistakes, but he was put in an impossible position when both parties nominated deeply flawed candidates who had potentially carried out criminal acts.  I don’t know that Clinton’s misuse of a private server for government business was so bad, but she did not cooperate with the FBI investigation, raising questions about whether there was something more serious that she refused to disclose.   It’s possible that some of the emails dealt with personal financial gain from her official position, or that they illegally disclosed highly classified information available on her server to anyone with simple hacking skills.

Trump may have some justification for calling Comey a “showboat” and for not strictly following FBI guidelines when discussing Hillary Clinton’s server case last year, but Comey is a good man who was put in an almost impossible position during the campaign by the accusations about both candidates.  I trust Comey more than I trust Trump.  At the very least, Trump should have personally informed Comey that he was firing him, rather than having Comey learn about it from a TV showing news behind him as he was speaking to FBI agents.  It was cowardly not to tell Comey face to face.

Firing Comey has to intimidate FBI agents working on the case, no matter what the FBI says.  Whether or not it is actually true, the appearance is that Comey was fired because he was too committed to finding the truth about the connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.  FBI agents have to be worried that if they find a “smoking gun” it will be the end of their careers, as it was for Comey.

The New Yorker ran a long article about two ways to remove Trump from the Presidency, impeachment or the 25th Amendment.  For impeachment, he would have had to have committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors.”  The 25th Amendment allows removal of the President when there is an official finding that he “is unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.”  Trump’s firing of Comey does not appear to have triggered either of these processes.  He apparently had the right to fire Comey, and while doing so showed poor judgment, it does not by itself show that he is unable to discharge the powers of his office.

No doubt Democrats will continue to accumulate evidence that either of these processes could be triggered against Trump.  The FBI investigation and the Senate and House investigations may turn up evidence that could be used against him.  Of course either method is as much political as it is legal, and the ultimate success or failure would depend on Trump’s popularity and his support in the House and Senate.  If the Democrats pick up enough seats in the next election to give them a majority, the chances of removing him will increase.

In any case, Trump is clearly overloading the political system.  He apparently enjoys chaos, but the political system is not set up to deal with this much chaos at once.  For the sake of the nation, Trump needs to calm down.  There may be crises that require immediate, complex action, but this was not one of them.  Trump should have laid the groundwork for firing Comey, rather than surprising everyone, even his own Vice President, and he should have had a replacement vetted and in line to replace Comey.  Failing to do that was poor leadership.

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