The case for firing former FBI Director James Comey has been made at length by both Democrats and Republicans.
Last July, Republicans were angry that he failed to indict Hillary Clinton, and Democrats were angry that he made a case for doing so. In October, Democrats were furious that Comey revealed that he had re-opened the investigation into Clinton, and in March, Republicans were angry that he disputed President Donald Trump’s wiretapping claims.
Comey was, arguably, dealt an impossible hand by the Obama administration. Regardless, within the Department of Justice and beyond, Comey had — perhaps with good intentions — undermined his credibility, and that of the FBI.
But why fire Comey now? The answer is simple. The day before, President Barack Obama’s former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper repeated, under oath, what he told NBC News’ Chuck Todd on Meet the Press on March 5 — that he had seen no evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government. That gave the Trump administration the breathing room to dismiss Comey — which it simply did not have before.
It is true that Trump did not have an attorney general and assistant attorney general in place until relatively late, but he could have acted before then — though having their recommendation certainly adds weight to his decision.
Put simply, if Trump had fired Comey while there were still serious questions about Russia, then it would have been more plausible to accuse him of trying to interfere in the investigation or cover up whatever happened.
It is now clear that nothing, in fact, happened. Monday’s hearing with Clapper and former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates was meant to reveal a “smoking gun,” and produced nothing but viral videos of Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX).
The more Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and his media allies try to hype the Comey firing as the new Watergate, and revive the Russia conspiracy theory, the more they help Trump by making fools of themselves.