There are many things you can read into President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey. He wants us to believe it’s strength and decisiveness. The reality is more likely fear that the noose is closing around him and his associates with regard to the FBI finding evidence of collusion with the Russians.
The memo Rod Rosenstein drafted for Trump to use to justify the firing was well written. Had Obama’s Attorney General Loretta Lynch presented that to him most of us would have found it totally plausible to fire Comey on the spot. What he did during the campaign with regard to Hillary was outrageous.
Now, seven months later, Comey is fired after Trump declared his undying love and admiration for Comey during the campaign and again after he was sworn in. Maybe he thought doing so would inoculate him against any FBI investigation?
Trump fired him without any warning, even to his communications staff, and writes the letter of dismissal himself. It had to be him because no lawyer would be associated with it. He is firing a man at the pinnacle of his career, throws in a paragraph thanking Comey for telling him he is not under investigation, and then wishes him luck in his future endeavors.
Then Trump’s communication staff struggles to respond to questions. His spokesperson hides in the bushes to avoid being seen on camera. Reports surface Trump is yelling at the TV when no one is defending what he just did. He sends out the person who some outlets won’t book anymore, Kellyanne Conway. She, who introduced us to the term “alternative facts,” appeared on CNN with Anderson Cooper and responded to one of his questions saying, “Anderson you are using the wrong set of facts.” Really? Then she proceeded to fight with Chris Cuomo, making herself and her boss look even more ridiculous. Me thinks Kellyanne will go back in the closet, so to speak. Then Trump in an interview with Lester Holt, contrary to what the White House spokespeople have said, asserts the firing of Comey was all his idea.
Then he proclaimed loudly that the investigation is all ‘fake news’ and there is no collusion with the Russians. Then to add to the farce the only White House publicly scheduled appointment for the day is a meeting with the Russian foreign minister and Russian ambassador/spymaster. As if all the firings don’t look Nixonian enough — first New York federal prosecutor Preet Bharara, then acting Attorney General Sally Yates and now FBI Director Comey — the White House releases a photo of Trump meeting with Henry Kissinger on the same day. Then Trump threatens Comey, suggesting White House conversations are being taped. Is the White House being run by the Marx Brothers? I expected to see a photo of Kissinger on his knees with Trump praying as he supposedly did with Nixon; though at 94 chances are Kissinger wouldn’t be able to get up again.
Clearly, with all the reporting and leaks from the White House, Department of Justice and FBI — all leaking like sieves — it won’t be long before we see some indictments. We have heard there is one or more grand jury sitting on this case. Subpoenas have been issued by the Senate Intelligence Committee for documents from Mike Flynn. Deputy AG Rosenstein stated he wrote the memo after being asked by Trump to justify the firing and it’s even reported he threatened to resign if the idea was attributed to him. One of the only things he can do to reclaim his reputation is to name a special counsel. He has the authority to do that as Attorney General Sessions has recused himself from the Russian investigation leaving Rosenstein in charge. The problem with a special counsel is it could take years to do his/her work and much of it would be done in secret.
At a minimum, this should play out with Democrats winning the House of Representatives in 2018 at which time they could vote to impeach Trump and send ‘articles of impeachment’ to the Senate. That would effectively end Trump’s ability to move forward the disastrous policies he and his far-right administration are advocating.
Peter Rosenstein is a longtime LGBT rights and Democratic Party activist. He writes regularly for the Blade.