Donald Trump shocked the political world when he announced the firing of FBI Director James Comey.
But why did he make such a surprise move?
Reports indicate it had a connection to the investigation of Russia and the 2016 election.
FBI Director Comey broke protocol when he announced that the FBI had an active counterintelligence investigation into Trump associates and their possible collusion with Russian agents on email hacks during the election.
But no evidence has yet emerged giving the accusation any validity.
Trump and top officials were furious Comey milked the media spotlight to create a cloud of suspicion around the White House, while not acknowledging the lack of evidence.
The Wall Street Journal reported:
“The more James Comey showed up on television discussing the FBI’s investigation into possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, the more the White House bristled, according to aides to President Donald Trump.
Frustration was growing among top associates of the president that Mr. Comey, in a series of appearances before a Senate panel, wouldn’t publicly tamp down questions about possible collusion with Russian interference in the 2016 presidential race. A person with knowledge of recent conversations said they wanted Mr. Comey to “say those three little words: ‘There’s no ties.’”
In the months before his decision to dismiss Mr. Comey as head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Mr. Trump grew unhappy that the media spotlight kept shining on the director. He viewed Mr. Comey as eager to step in front of TV cameras and questioned whether his expanding media profile was warping his view of the Russia investigation, the officials said.”
In his letter announcing Comey’s firing, Trump noted that the former FBI Director had told him three times he was not under any investigation.
But that nugget was never made public.
Comey created a confusing situation where some investigations and targets were made public and others were not.
This led critics to believe Comey was acting in his own political interests as opposed to those of the investigation.
Pundits argued Comey knew he was on thin ice and revealed the Russia investigation to insulate himself from being fired.
James Robinson wrote in USA Today:
“Republicans have never bought into the story line that Comey cost Clinton the election. And they fault him for not recommending criminal prosecution of Clinton for her alleged misdeeds. But their main complaint was that he gave the Russia story more weight than it deserved. In March, Comey revealed that there had been an active counterintelligence investigation on “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.”
This was an unprecedented admission, and it might have been an attempt on Comey’s part to make it politically difficult to fire him.”
Surely Comey believed that showing leg on the Russia investigation would buy him political insurance
— Rich Lowry (@RichLowry) May 9, 2017
Was Comey promoting the Russia investigation to preserve his own future?
The Wall Street Journal reported Comey knew he was on shaky ground with Trump:
“Since Mr. Trump’s inauguration, a frosty relationship has persisted between him and the FBI director. Associates of Mr. Comey said the director respected the office of the presidency and understood he served at the pleasure of the president. He regularly briefed Mr. Trump on national security matters and had discussions with the president about policy issues, ranging from gang violence to the encryption of communications and devices that is bedeviling law enforcement.
He was careful not to release information to the president about the ongoing probe into Russia’s alleged meddling in the U.S. election, however, because Mr. Comey believed doing so would cross ethical and legal boundaries, according to the associates. Mr. Comey told associates before the election and in December that he knew he could be fired but wouldn’t let such fears affect his decision making. He also urged agents investigating Russia’s meddling in the election not to worry about politics or how their probe might affect those in power, an associate said.”
Comey gambled with his future – and the reputation of the FBI – by repeatedly making himself the center of political storms.
Trump finally had enough and fired him.