Why did Trump fire Comey?

Donald Trump on the May 9 2017 fired the Director of the FBI, James Comey, sacking the person leading a criminal investigation into whether any of Trump’s team colluded with the Russian government to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election.

James Comey FBI Director caricatureTrump’s sudden decision to fire FBI Director James Comey raises many questions about the timing and how it will affect the FBI’s most sensitive investigations.

This latest (almost), unbeleiveable development in Trump’s presidency raised the dangerous outcome of political interference by a sitting president into an existing investigation. Following this latest development top Democrats have called for a special counsel to lead the investigation.

“That’s why this move is stunning, and there’s really no other way to describe it. It’s the timing that is important here. This is an investigation that is being conducted by the FBI’s counterintelligence unit, it is very secretive and confined to that division of the FBI. To make this change in midstream raises questions about the direction of the investigation and who will come next to lead it,” CBS News justice correspondent Jeff Pegues states

Official Reasons

The official reason that Donald Trump gave for firing FBI Director, James Comey was because he was following advice from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

The memorandum from Rosenstein references the handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails. The memorandum later reads “we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation… The Director laid out his version of the facts for the news media as if it were a closing arguement, without a trial. It is a textbook example of what federal prosecuters and agents are taught not to do. APT – FBI Director James Comey fired

The 7 reasons why Trump fired Comey were as follows:

  1. Comey poorly handled conclusion of investigation into Clinton’s emails
  2. Comey had lost the trust of the public
  3. Comey lost trust of the rank and file of the FBI
  4. Trump was acting on advice of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein
  5. Comey was not doing a good job
  6. Comey failed to stop leaks from the FBI
  7. Comey gave incorrect testimoney to the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3rd May

Why did trump fire FBI Director James Comey caricature APT1. Comey poorly handled conclusion of investigation into Clinton’s emails

FBI reopens investigation into Hillary Clinton emails 2016/10/28

“In connection with an unrelated case, the FBI has learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the investigation,” Comey wrote. “I am writing to inform you that the investigative team briefed me on this yesterday, and I agreed that the FBI should take appropriate investigative steps designed to allow investigators to review these emails to determine whether they contain classified information as well as to assess their importance to our investigation.”

FBI Director James Comey quote that the FBI has reopened the investigation into HIllary Clinton emails caricature APTComey added: “Although the FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant and I cannot predict how long it will take to complete this additional work, I believe it is important to update your Committees about our efforts in light of my previous testimony.” The Guardian – FBI reopens Clinton investigation

Trump previously praised Comey for reopening investigation of Hillary Clinton emails

Back on the 31st October, Trump, who had previously criticised FBI Director James Comey for not bringing charges against Clinton, said he had to give the FBI credit.  

“That was so bad what happened originally, and it took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made in light of the kind of opposition he had where they’re trying to protect her from criminal prosecution,” Trump said at a Michigan campaign rally. 

“It took a lot of guts.”

Donald Trump quote about James Comey following reopening of investigation of Secretary Hilary Clinton - it took a lot of guts caricature APT2. Comey had lost the trust of the public

In Trump’s letter to Comey, he states “It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission” 

Donald Trump quote about Comey firing that he had lost the trust of the public APT3. Comey lost trust of the rank and file of the FBI

Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Saunders stated on the 10th May 2017 that “Most importantly, the rank and file of the FBI had lost confidence in their director.”

On the 11th May FBI Associate Director Andrew McCabe was appearing in front of congress as replacement for Comey. During testimoney, McCabe was asked by the Democratic Senator for New Mexico Martin Heinrich “Is it accurate that the rank and file no longer supported Director Comey”. McCabe responded with “No Sir, that is not accurate, I hold Director Comey in the absolute highest regard. I have the highest respect for his considerable abilities and his integrity,” McCabe later added “Director Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI, and still does to this day.”

Andrew McCabe quote to congress about support of rank and file fo FBI behind James Comey caricature APT4. Trump was acting on advice of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein

On the 11th May in an interview with NBC, Trump said he was “going to fire Comey, my decision… I was going to fire Comey… I was going to fire regardless of recommendation” from Rosenstein.

Donald Trump quote that he was going to fire FBI Director James Comey regardless of recommendation caricature APT5. Comey was not doing a good job

Trump told reporters “because he wasn’t doing a good job. Very simply, he was not doing a good job.”

Donald Trump quote about firing of FBI Director James Comey - very simply he was not doing a good job caricature APT6. Comey failed to stop leaks from the FBI

“How important was the FBI director’s failure to stop the leaks coming out of the FBI to the president? How important was that?” a reporter asked Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Saunders during the briefing on the May 10.

“I think that’s probably one of the many factors,” she responded. “You can’t deny…that that wasn’t a problem. And so I think that was just another one of the many reasons that he no longer had the confidence of the president or the rest of the FBI.”

7. Comey gave incorrect testimoney to the Senate Judiciary Committee on 3rd May

Comey told the Senate Judiciary Committee on May 3 that “hundreds of thousands of emails” were forwarded from Huma Abedin to Anthony Weiner’s computer.

On Tuesday May 9, the FBI wrote to the committee to supplement Comey’s testimoney.

Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Saunders said May 11 that “after watching Director Comey’s testimony last Wednesday, the president was strongly inclined to remove him.”

Trump tweet on 12th may 2017

On the 12th May Trump tweeted “James Comey better hope that there are no “tapes” of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!”, this has strong overtones of Richard Nixon and the associated Watergate scandal in 1973. Nixon refused to comply with orders to release recordings of White House conversations.

Donald Trump tweet - James Comey better hope that there are no tapes of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press! caricature APTRichard Nixon 37th President of the USA quote - I'm innocent. You've got to believe i'm innocent. If you don't take my job caricature APTReaction from American Politicians

“While the President has the legal authority to remove the Director of the FBI, I am disappointed in the President’s decision to remove James Comey from office… James Comey is a man of honour and integrity, and he has led the FBI well in extraordinary circumstances.” Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona

“Today’s action by President Trump completely obliterates any semblance of an independent investigation into Russian efforts to influence our election, and places our nation on the verge of a constitutional crisis,” Representative John Conyers, senior Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee.

“My staff and I are reviewing legislation to establish an independent commission on Russia. The second paragraph of this letter is bizarre,” Representative Justin Amash, Republican of Michigan

“I am troubled by the timing and reasoning of Director Comey’s termination,” Senator Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina

“I’ve spent the last several hours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of Comey’s firing. I just can’t do it.” Senator Jeff Flake, Republican of Arizona.

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