“You’re Fired”

President Trump has fired FBI Director James Comey, “effective immediately,” as reported by the New York Times and other news outlets. This is an interesting move. The NY Times reports:

Memos released by the White House show that Rod J. Rosenstein, the newly sworn-in deputy attorney general, recommended that Mr. Comey be fired over how he disclosed the investigation into Mrs. Clinton.

Mr. Comey broke with longstanding tradition and policies by discussing the case and chastising the Democratic presidential nominee’s “careless” handling of classified information. Then, in the campaign’s final days, Mr. Comey announced that the F.B.I. was reopening the case, a move that earned him widespread criticism.

trump fired

This would lead one to believe that the concern is over previous activity related to the Clinton e-mail investigation. At the time, Trump criticized Comey for letting Clinton “off the hook” with the e-mail investigation, but later praised his courage for the apparent reopening of the investigation just days before the election. Many argue that Comey’s handling of the e-mail case, and especially the decision to announce the examination of the e-mails related to a separate investigation, worked in trump’s favor in terms of the election. It seems a strange justification for terminating Comey now.

Comey has also made clear that the Trump campaign was under investigation prior to the election and that the investigation continues now, even if not directed specifically at President Trump. Some might wonder if the firing doesn’t have more to do with this investigation than the Clinton investigation. The current administration has had over three months to remove Comey if these actions were of genuine concern. Perhaps it is the impact of Comey’s recent testimony, and the advise of the Deputy AG that created the proper impetus for Comey’s dismissal. However, the timing of this firing while the investigation into possible Russian collusion continues will certainly influence the public’s perception of the action.

The discussion should get very interesting, very soon. Stay tuned…

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One thought on ““You’re Fired”

  1. I received a question in another forum about whether the POTUS can fire the FBI Director without some sort of Congressional consent, given that the position requires Senate confirmation.

    The answer is yes.

    Myers v. United States, 272 U.S. 52, 106-107 (1926) established that “the President possesses plenary authority to remove presidentially appointed executive officers who have been confirmed by the Senate, and other presidentially appointed executive officers, so long as Congress does not expressly provide otherwise.”

    So there is no process akin to Senate confirmation required to remove the FBI Director, or similarly appointed positions. The President is absolutely within his legal authority to fire the FBI Director.

    Whether it was a good strategic move is another matter. It is difficult not to read this as a deliberate attempt to interfere with and suppress and ongoing FBI investigation, as many are publicly alleging now.

    [https://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41850.pdf]

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