Thursday, May 11, 2017

Is Trump Trying To Stop The Investigation Into His Russia Ties By Firing FBI Director James Comey ?

(This caricature of James Comes is by the inimitable DonkeyHotey.)

I am not a defender of James Comey, who has just been fired from his position as FBI Director by Donald Trump. Personally, I think Comey should have resigned (or been fired) months ago.

Comey's announcement just 10 days before the 2016 election that he was re-opening the investigation into Hillary Clinton's e-mails inferred that there was something nefarious regarding her e-mails -- and definitely affected the election's outcome. Of course, that turned out to be false (as he would have known if he had just done a perfunctory reading of those e-mails (which were from Huma Abedin -- not Hillary Clinton).

That announcement showed that either Comes used his government position to intentionally affect the presidential election (which would be a violation of federal law), or he exhibited gross incompetence. Either way, he was not worthy of leading this nation's top law enforcement agency.

Trump says he fired Comey because he was not doing a good job (i.e., was incompetent). But that was clearly evident several months ago. If that was the real reason, then Comes should have been fired in January or February.

Trump's firing of Comes at this time, when the investigation into Trump's ties to Russian officials during the 2016 campaign was picking up momentum, stinks to high heaven. It smells a lot like Richard Nixon's firing of special prosecutor Archibald Cox, which was just an effort to block the investigation into Nixon's misdeeds. And indeed, Nixon's action was later included in the articles of impeachment passed by the House of Representatives.

Is Trump pulling a "Nixon" here? Is the firing of Comey an attempting to obstruct the Russia investigation? It certainly looks like that. If the FBI investigation now fizzles out, how are we to know whether there was nothing to be found or his new FBI director was picked to kill the investigation? We can't know, and the perception will be bad for Trump.

There is only one way to insure that a fair and impartial investigation is now conducted. A bipartisan special prosecutor must be appointed (something that was already supported by a huge majority of Americans).

Here is Dan Rather's take on the situation:

Future generations may mark today as one of the truly dark days in American history, a history that may soon take an even more ominous turn. 
President Trump's sudden firing of FBI Director James Comey is a matter that should deeply concern every American, regardless of party, partisan politics or ideological leanings. 
The independence of our law enforcement is at the bedrock of our democracy. That independance, already grievously shaken under the brief tenure of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, is now shattered by uncertainty. 
The firing of an FBI Director is always a very serious matter in normal times. But these times aren't normal. Far from it. The Bureau is engaged in one of the most important and perilous investigations of this or any other presidency—the investigation of connections between the Trump election campaign and the Russian government.
The questions mount and the shadow grows darker. What were those connections? What did Mr. Trump know about them and when did he know it? How can the President explain the serious allegations against his former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn? And what is President Trump hiding in this regard? It’s imperative that the nation—We The People—get answers to those questions. It will take time, but the process must start now. 
A politicized FBI is the last thing we need as we struggle through the maze of lies, concealment and ever-deepening mysteries. The last time a President fired prosecutors who were investigating him was Richard Nixon during the widespread criminal conspiracy known for short as “Watergate.” We all know how that turned out. In real ways, this potential scandal and coverup are much graver. We are talking about the very security of the United States and the sanctity of our republic.
Thomas Paine famously wrote in 1776: "These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. "
I see this as having the potential for a similar reflection point in our American story. If there is a cover up, if our nation is at the risk that has certainly been more than suggested, it is incumbent upon everyone who claims to love this nation to demand answers. 
We need a special prosecutor. We need an independent investigation. There is, obviously, much we don’t know about what has just happened, why it happened and why now. Just as obviously there is much more, so much more that we need know. We need to damn the lies and expose the truth.

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