Opinion: With Comey ouster, the nation wades into dangerous waters

(AP)

With President Trump’s surprise dismissal of James Comey as FBI director, we now need an independent counsel to fully, credibly investigate and if necessary prosecute anyone involved in Russia’s well-documented meddling into the 2016 presidential election.

Anything less will not be acceptable, for reasons that Trump himself raises in the letter demanding Comey’s resignation.

“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,” Trump wrote.

Trump may — or may not — be under investigation personally. We’ll leave that argument for another day. Either way, Comey has made it clear that his agency is at least investigating possible collusion between Russian officials and members of Trump’s political campaign or associates.¹

Trump in turn has made crystal clear, as recently as yesterday, his frustration that the FBI’s investigation has been allowed to continue. He made it clear that he wants it stopped, and it’s disturbingly easy to see this action as an attempt to make that happen.

Admittedly, it’s hard to argue that Comey hasn’t harmed public faith in the FBI, because he has. His botched handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email system was condemned by politicians in both parties as well as many former Justice Department officials. It broke with longstanding department precedent and practice, and history will record that it helped to alter the election’s outcome. In the end, Comey put a higher priority on his own reputation than on justice, and in the end both his reputation and justice were harmed.

Trump, however, was angry with Comey for other reasons. He had made it clear during the campaign that he wanted Clinton prosecuted, and that he strongly disagreed with Comey’s conclusion that prosecution was not merited. “Lock her up” became a popular chant at Trump rallies, and Trump promised repeatedly that if elected he would overturn Comey’s decision, which is power that even the president does not have.

As recently as six days ago, Trump was making it quite clear that he still had not gotten over it.

Nobody expects that a new FBI director will reopen the Clinton case. That would be grounds for potential impeachment. But clearly, both as presidential candidate and as president, Trump has not shied from attempting to put immense and highly inappropriate political pressure on the FBI and Justice Department to produce the outcome that he demands. There is no sign and indeed no hope that he is capable of changing his ways at this point. That’s who he is.

In his letter announcing Comey’s firing, Trump spoke of the need to “find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence.” Public trust and confidence in the investigation into Russian meddling into our election — meddling that Trump continues to publicly deny — is equally important.

Only an investigation that is clearly free of political pressure from Trump and his appointees will be able to produce such an outcome. Continued faith in the system absolutely requires it.


¹Here is what Comey said in sworn testimony to Congress as recently last month:

“I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part of our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts. As with any counterintelligence investigation, this will also include an assessment of whether any crimes were committed.”

Reader Comments 0

1340 comments
Joyce Mitar Morgan
Joyce Mitar Morgan

It won't affect anything AJC your making a mountain out of a mole hill

Thomas Smith
Thomas Smith

Jay Bookman still spouting his far left views and eschewing the glories of a socialist utopia.

Summer Smith
Summer Smith

Opinion: With the continuation of ridiculous Jay Bookman opinions, the AJC continues to wade in dangerous waters....

Stewart Coleman Speights
Stewart Coleman Speights

This nation has been wading in dangerous waters every since it elected Trump. The firing of Comey is just the lastest scandal in a administration that's been in constant turmoil, scandal and chaos since day one. After just 110 days the Trump administration has proven itself to be the most inept, deceptive and corrupt administration in U.S. history.

Michael Wallace
Michael Wallace

Don't need anymore investigations you people need to get to work helping Trump do the job we elected him to do get on board or get out of DC.

Luang Tom
Luang Tom

How is it that last year, before the elections, the Left was demanding Comey be fired for even speaking of investigating Hillary Clinton? Now, with Trump in office, Comey is the Left's knight-in-shining-armor. WTH?

Melanie Whitfield
Melanie Whitfield

Are we supposed to believe all this is just coincidence since Comey just asked for the resources during a meeting with Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general who just so happened to recommend firing Comey this week? I don't think so! Give us a little more credit.

Susan Smith
Susan Smith

The case is not closed on Hillary, an investigation was never completed. Trump, you bet is going after her and this is the first step. He had to have time to get his people into office. No this is absolutely about Hillary, possibly more.No Russia has always been meddling, nothing new. But total violation of Hillaries security clearances has the whole nation who hold this clearance pissed.

Chris Policronis
Chris Policronis

More Fake news from the AJC. Try something different like the truth!

thebrewers
thebrewers

so sorry you liberals can't get over that you lost. so sorry.... I will pray for you....

Kellee Jones
Kellee Jones

“We will take America without firing a shot ... we will bury you! “We can’t expect the American people to jump from capitalism to communism, but we can assist their elected leaders in giving them small doses of socialism, until they awaken one day to find that they have communism. “We do not have to invade the United States, we will destroy you from within.”

jezel-dog / Coach - me
jezel-dog / Coach - me

These times are dangerous. We are entering a period where....the consent of the  governed.....is in jeopardy. Our system is based on majority rule...with respect to minority rights.


Not a system based on minority rule...with respect to majority rights.


The very legitimacy of our democracy is in the balance.

Pam Howard
Pam Howard

No...its time to get out of the corruption and rid our country of liars like Comey.

Robert1959
Robert1959

If the republicans in both the House and Senate stand behind Donald "birther" Trump, 1st white nationalist POTUS, refuse to appoint a Special Prosecutor, refuse to enact the 25th Amendment to the US Constitution or refuse to start impeachment proceedings ASAP the American people should demand all of them be investigated for "aiding and abetting" and obstructing justice.  Nobody is above the law including members of Congress.  The American People demand answers - How many other members of Congress are colluding with the Russians?

Mary Kathryn Hansen
Mary Kathryn Hansen

FBI has had many missteps w/Comey. Way too much time explaining his actions. Not enough time investigating.

Robert1959
Robert1959

Is there any doubt about why Donald "birther" Trump, 1st white nationalist POTUS fired FBI Director Comey in the middle of the Russian investigation?  Trump is guilty of collusion with the Russians and all Americans regardless of party affiliation should be demanding a "Special Prosecutor" be appointed ASAP.  Congress should also look at what options are available to protect the American People (25th Amendment, impeachment, etc.).  Nobody is above the law including the POTUS. 
American History has recorded that Richard Nixon fired AG Archibald Cox after Cox demanded Nixon release the tape recordings in the oval office.  Nixon resigned in shame 3 days after firing Cox rather than be impeached.  Hopefully by the end of this week Donald Trump should do the American People a "bigly" favor and resign from the office of the president effective ASAP.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

#MoreTrumpHysteria Part 2.  aka, sheets!

YouLibs
YouLibs

@DownInAlbany 

Y'all keep using that "hysteria" word in a hysterical attempt to deflect.

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

DiA seems to have caught on that many of us did not approve of Director Comey.

Holding that thought at the same time with taking issue with the timing and reasons for his dismissal, however, remains elusive.

Mary
Mary

And he is the only person that knows it, so now it will be over. LOL

StraightNoChaser
StraightNoChaser

@Mary Nope, that's what the toddler in chief failed to realize when he fired him.  

Mary
Mary

Driving in this morning I heard an interesting point about the Comey scenario. According to Trumps written communication to Comey he notes that Comey had "on three occasions told him that he was not the source of their investigation ". If that is true, Comey crossed the line into politics. If it is not true then Trump lied bigly. Crazy stuff I tell you. Got to bring closure to this Russian thing NOW!!

JKToole
JKToole

@Mary Go read what the AJC columnist from "the right" wrote about the second paragraph.

Closure? Trump has fired everyone who was investigating him. That will be his closure.

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

When they arrest Trump. I hope he's on the golf course.

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

It'd make for a good episode of Cops.

td1234
td1234

@BigN59 I was about the same the exact same thing. It amazes me the spin and propaganda and lies that either these progs believe and/or attempt to spread. 

YouLibs
YouLibs

@DownInAlbany @td1234 @BigN59 

Just think about who this person is who you're defending and all he has done so far...

Are you down to absolutely zero principles?

Visual_Cortex
Visual_Cortex

@DownInAlbany @td1234 @BigN59

CONVINCED, "we got him now"

er no, we're not, at least I'm not, but think what you like.

I got burned by too many claims of "Fitzmas" back in the day to think anyone prominent from Team Trump gets frog-marched in a manner I'd find pleasing.

Cora-Annie
Cora-Annie

That Is Because Every Lying Democrat is trying to get him impeached. Not going to happen, need somebody somebody not addociated with Kilary.

Cora-Annie
Cora-Annie

It is my right to vote as I see fit. Check your own principals. Do something about the vipence, taunting chilfrrn, respect.

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

"If the election had been on October 27, I would be your president," she told a women's conference moderated by CNN's Christiane Amanpour on May 2. "It wasn't a perfect campaign, but I was on the way to winning until a combination of Comey's letter and Russian WikiLeaks. The reason why I believe we lost were the intervening events in the last 10 days."

Robert1959
Robert1959

@DownInAlbany Hello my friend even a hardcore rightwing racist bigot like you should be mad as hell that Donald "birther" Trump, 1st white nationalist POTUS would stoop this low and fire the FBI Director in the middle of investigating Russia's involvement in the 2016 presidential elections.  Putin is a dictator and Trump is acting like he is a Putin oligarch mob boss.  It is time for all Americans regardless of party affiliations to denounce communism.   What side are you on - the American People or Russia? 

Cora-Annie
Cora-Annie

The crybabiea Demos waneed him fired,. check on Clinton, he fired one or tw

DownInAlbany
DownInAlbany

"My confidence in the FBI director's ability to lead this agency has been shaken," said Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.).