Archive for Saturday, May 13, 2017

Opinion: A political ax murder

May 13, 2017

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Washington — It was implausible that FBI Director James Comey was fired in May 2017 for actions committed in July 2016 — the rationale contained in the memo by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.

It was implausible that Comey was fired by Donald Trump for having been too tough on Hillary Clinton, as when, at that July news conference, he publicly recited her various email misdeeds despite recommending against prosecution.

It was implausible that Trump fired Comey for, among other things, reopening the Clinton investigation 11 days before the election, something that at the time Trump praised as a sign of Comey’s “guts” that had “brought back his reputation.”

It was implausible that Trump, a man notorious for being swayed by close and loyal personal advisers, fired Comey on the recommendation of a sub-Cabinet official whom Trump hardly knew and who’d been on the job all of two weeks.

It was implausible that Trump found Rosenstein’s arguments so urgently persuasive that he acted immediately — so precipitously, in fact, that Comey learned of his own firing from TVs that happened to be playing behind him.

These implausibilities were obvious within seconds of Comey’s firing and the administration’s immediate attempt to pin it all on the Rosenstein memo. That was pure spin. So why in reality did Trump fire Comey?

Admittedly, Comey had to go. The cliche is that if you’ve infuriated both sides, it means you must be doing something right. Sometimes, however, it means you must be doing everything wrong.

Over the last year, Comey has been repeatedly wrong. Not, in my view, out of malice or partisanship (although his self-righteousness about his own probity does occasionally grate). He was in an unprecedented situation with unpalatable choices. Never in American presidential history had a major party nominated a candidate under official FBI investigation. (Turns out the Trump campaign was under investigation as well.) Which makes the normal injunction that FBI directors not interfere in elections facile and impossible to follow. Any course of action — disclosure or silence, commission or omission — carried unavoidable electoral consequences.

Comey had to make up the rules as he went along. He did. That was not his downfall. His downfall was making up contradictory, illogical rules, such as the July 5 nonindictment indictment of Clinton.

A series of these — and Comey became anathema to both Democrats and Republicans. Clinton blamed her loss on two people. One of them was Comey.

And there’s the puzzle. There was ample bipartisan sentiment for letting Comey go. And there was ample time from Election Day on to do so. A simple talk, a gold watch, a friendly farewell, a Comey resignation to allow the new president to pick the new director. No fanfare, no rancor.

True, this became more difficult after March 20 when Comey revealed that the FBI was investigating the alleged Trump-Russia collusion. Difficult but not impossible. For example, just last week Comey had committed an egregious factual error about the Huma Abedin emails that the FBI had to abjectly walk back in a written memo to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Here was an opportunity for a graceful exit: Comey regrets the mistake and notes that some of the difficult decisions he had previously made necessarily cost him the confidence of various parties. Time for a clean slate. Add the usual boilerplate about not wanting to be a distraction at such a crucial time. Awkward perhaps, but still dignified and amicable.

Instead we got this: a political ax murder, brutal even by Washington standards. (Or even Roman standards. Where was the vein-opening knife and the warm bath?) No final meeting, no letter of resignation, no presidential thanks, no cordial parting. Instead, a blindsided Comey ends up in a live-streamed O.J. Bronco ride, bolting from Los Angeles to be flown, defrocked, back to Washington.

Why? Trump had become increasingly agitated with the Russia-election investigation and Comey’s very public part in it. If Trump thought this would kill the inquiry and the story, or perhaps even just derail it somewhat, he’s made the blunder of the decade. Whacking Comey has brought more critical attention to the Russia story than anything imaginable. It won’t stop the FBI investigation. And the confirmation hearings for a successor will become a nationally televised forum for collusion allegations, which up till now have remained a scandal in search of a crime.

So why did he do it? Now we know: The king asked whether no one would rid him of this troublesome priest, and got so impatient he did it himself.

— Charles Krauthammer is a columnist for Washington Post Writers Group.

Comments

Richard Heckler 5 months, 1 week ago

Trump the Rump admin can't recall what was said yesterday ....

A perfect scenario for committing perjury under oath at some point.

The FBI is not expected to update anyone under any circumstances until the investigation is ready to announce indictments.

These conservatives cannot keep their stories straight and people are taking notes.

Trump the Rump and his sheep admin are on the way out ...... maybe not today or tomorrow but sooner than Trump thinks.

It has been only a matter of time since this admin took office.

I think perjury will be among the indictments coming down from a grand jury sooner or later.

Neither a grand jury nor the FBI should be briefing the white house, members of congress or the news media.

Scott Burkhart 5 months, 1 week ago

Perjury, perjury, perjury. Impeach, impeach, impeach. Squawk, squawk, squawk.

Thomas Bryce Jr. 5 months, 1 week ago

So, in order to gain control over the majority of branches in our Government, "Christian Conservatives" are OK with the possibility that Russia helped Donald Trump get elected? These are the same People that called Bernie Sanders a Socialist and a Communist. Oh, The Irony! I contend that these so called "Conservative Christians" would also except help from the Devil himself as long as it meant they could maintain power and Rule the people of this Country, as they seem to believe they are entitled to do, because of their Religion and their Virtues! The 8th and 9th levels of Hell, as described in Dante's Inferno, await those that follow this path.

Scott Burkhart 5 months, 1 week ago

I've listened to Krauthammer several times this week regarding the firing of James Comey. The way I see it, Comey was a partisan that leaned toward the Washington D.C. establishment. There was no way he was ever going to bring charges against Clinton, even if she personally executed Donald Trump. (Take the gun, leave the canals.) He was a Washington establishment imbed. After a YEAR of investigating a Trump/Russia connection, untold leaks, and testimony upon testimony, NOTHING has been found to implicate President Trump, his aides, or his campaign in any wrongdoing. I repeat, NOTHING. As long as James Comey sat at the helm of the FBI, this investigation was never going to come to any conclusion. There would be "ongoing" inquiries that, "I cannot comment on" ad infinitum. That was his mission, to help delegitimize Trump and his presidency. President Trump did the right thing and axed him. He also did it in a way that is common in corporate America.

You don't call them in, tell them what is going on, thank them for being a good sport and then tell them to take a while cleaning out their office. No. You give them a ring while they're out of the building, you tell them that some changes are being made and that they are no longer part of the future of the company. Then you tell them that their security badge is no longer valid, they've been locked out of the IT system. Security will greet them at the entrance, escort them to their former office, and allow them to remove the personal items therein.

This ensures that any information that Comey might have squirreled away in his office for safekeeping, remains there until the office can be sanitized for files. Corporate America is hardball and President Trump has championship rings in this arena.

Krauthammer is just like all of the other idiots running around Washington criticizing Trump. All they have to say is, "He's not doing it right!" No, he's not doing it your way. Shut up.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 months, 1 week ago

Scott......the only "idiot" in Washington is the damned fool pervert that the clueless voters voted for (and not in a majority, Hillary won the election in any other election in the country (governor, senator, congressman, club president, etc). He is an illegitimate pretender. The office of President of the United States has been impacted by the presence of Russian interference and Comey was well on his way to proving it. Hence the political firing of Mr. Comey.

He is illegitimate, wrong, disorganized, and incompetent and clueless.

We will NOT shut up until this colossal disaster has been corrected by God or impeachment.

Justin Hoffman 5 months, 1 week ago

How do you impeach an "illegitimate" president? Is there a special process for "fake" presidents? Please do tell.

Scott Burkhart 5 months, 1 week ago

No, Fred, he is legitimately the President of the United States. Your President. My President. I agree that Comey's firing was political but Comey made himself a political figure. I suggest you call 911 to put out that "hair fire" that you have raging.

David Reynolds 5 months, 1 week ago

It is always interesting to read what the members of the Hive have to say.

I have always believed when all someone has to say is "name calling", then they have nothing constructive to add to the conversation. They also expose their total lack of ability to reason based on actual facts. It's a shame, that the Hive is so single minded.

In this case, the Hive has been reduced to incoherent rambling.

Charles said: "So why did he do it? Now we know: The king asked whether no one would rid him of this troublesome priest, and got so impatient he did it himself." Charles is way to superfluous in his opinion on this subject. This opinion piece tarnishes an otherwise constructive analysis we have come to expect from Charles.

The basic fact is that then President Obama did not do his job, and terminate Comey, based on his "Insubordinate Behavior" & "Egregiously Allowing the Destruction of Evidence & Suspiciously Granting Immunity in the Clinton Server & Email " scandal.

Combine the above with the leaks that could only have come from his investigative team & department, & then you have grounds that demand action to try to restore order in the Department of Justice of which the FBI is a part.

Loretta Lynch's Department of Justice was part of the problem, meeting with Bill Clinton and not acting when Comey usurped her authority to judge the evidence and bring charges. Comey himself worked for a law firm that worked for the Clinton Foundation...too many conflicts of interest.

Obama himself started the Russia investigation in July of last year, he also was monitoring communications among thousand of people...total abuse of power.

So there was no-one to clean up the swamp that has become this partisan contaminated soup all the citizens rejected in the 2016 election. President Trump started the process by appointing new staff in the AG department. He also sent out a huge statement to the rest of Washington to stop the past behavior or there is no gold watch for you either.

So the members of the Hive can continue their monolithic behavior, while ignoring the responsibilities of the members of their own Hive. They can name call and cast aspersions, but President Trump will continue to empty the Swamp.

Kendall Simmons 5 months, 1 week ago

Do you seriously believe Trump is emptying the swamp??? This isn't snark??? Wow.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 5 months, 1 week ago

Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz............

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