Trump sacking FBI Director Comey ‘based more on political than legal reasons’
President Donald Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey on the recommendation of the US Attorney General.
Trump said new leadership is needed to restore public trust in the agency.
The story has, of course, hit the headlines with some asking if the firing is legal.
Others have connected it to Comey's probe into alleged Russian meddling in the US presidential election.
RT: Were you surprised by the announcement of Comey's firing?
Coleen Rowley: There are so many twists and turns going on these days with all these investigations and recusals. And now this firing. I don’t think you really can be surprised. It’s anyone’s guess as to what the truth is behind all of this. Certainly, the reason for Comey’s firing was not that he had somehow tainted the reputation of the FBI or the Department of Justice. If that was the standard, then Comey shouldn’t have even been hired by Obama. Because back then I wrote a New York Times op-ed saying there were questions Comey should be asked during his confirmation hearing back when Obama hired him to be FBI director. He had authorized or signed off on torture; he had signed off on illegal warrantless surveillance, he had defended a three-year-long detention of an American citizen without charges or the right to an attorney. And all of that was back when he was just Deputy Attorney General before he became FBI director. Certainly, I don’t think it is a question of Comey’s integrity, or he would not have even been hired in the first place.
RT: The Deputy Attorney General said people across the political spectrum think Comey made many mistakes. Is that true?
CR: The many mistakes again. They are talking about his going public and giving press conferences on Hillary Clinton’s email. Hillary Clinton blames him for having lost the election. He is one of the main culprits in her mind for losing the election. But if you consider that having a press conference or closing an investigation is frankly within the prerogative of the FBI director. Typically, they don’t go public on things, but this was an unusual case. Consider his earlier mistakes…those are much more egregious than his more recent mistakes. But the situation right now is reminiscent of Watergate. It makes your head spin, and I defy anyone to really know what is going on. The Hillary Clinton camp actually thinks that Trump fired him for nefarious reasons, perhaps because he was being too aggressive in investigating the links between Trump and the Russians, etc. It is a real toss up as to what it is going on.
This is one of the few firings or unaccepted resignations where everyone is applauding. Hillary Clinton’s applauding, Donald Trump’s happy, everybody across the board …Mr. Comey has been beset by one clarification after another; clarification as to testimony he recently gave. This is not good when the Director of the FBI testifies and then a couple hours later you got “He didn’t mean that. He didn’t mean all the emails.” So he comes across as a very sloppy administrator... - Lionel, media critic
RT: The White House says the FBI needs new leadership to restore trust. How can that be done?
CR: I don’t think the FBI should be singled out. I think the FBI might actually, if you compare the CIA, NSA, all of the intelligence community in recent years has gone off the rails. And the FBI is part of that. The former director of the FBI, Robert Mueller and James Comey were very similar. And in fact, they were quite sycophantic to power, up to a point. They stood together at one moment in refusing to sign off on an emergency order to continue the president’s illegal directive to monitor people. They did have that one moment of integrity where they stood together. But by and large, they’ve gone along with almost all of this post 9/11 ‘war on terror’ authorities which violate the Constitution and even violate international law. We will have a lot of commentaries now trying to figure this out. I think there are political reasons, almost certainly, that are more important than legal reasons.
RT: The Attorney General criticized Comey for publicly disclosing confidential information. How do you view this?
CR: If he is talking about those press conferences, they were unusual. Normally, this doesn’t happen. But again normally you don’t have an FBI investigation of a presidential candidate. In this case, it looks like there were a couple of investigations going on… I think that his firing is political, probably. And maybe Comey himself will speak out, but I guess he probably will just go silently into the night. Before he became FBI director, he was a general council for a very important Lockheed Martin defense contractor. In theory, he can get his old job back easily enough.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.