HAS President of the United States, Donald Trump, gone too far with his firing of FBI chief James Comey and will this action come back to haunt him by way of an impeachment at some point in the future? From his time on the reality television programme, The Apprentice, where he made ’You’re fired!’ his catchphrase, Trump has been using it liberally since – and probably too much so.
During his US presidential campaign last year, when he suffered reverses or when things were not going the way he wanted them to, he was not one bit shy about firing campaign managers and other staff, even when it looked like he might be digging a hole for himself and damaging his hopes of victory. Somehow, he managed to prevail, defying all the naysayers, chief amongst them the media with whom his fractious relationship continues four months into his term of office this weekend.
Having got away with it on the campaign trail, Trump’s obsession with firing people on a whim, worryingly, continues and he is now taking aim at a much higher calibre of person, as is the case with Comey, in whom he says he lacks the confidence that he is able to carry out his duties as Director of the FBI. One would think that Trump had a lot to be thankful to Comey for after his oddly-timed investigation into Hillary Clinton’s possibly inappropriate and compromising use of a private email server while she was Secretary of State badly dented her presidential ambitions last year.
Of late, the FBI has been investigating the extent of Russian interference and its possible links with Trump’s presidential election campaign team. In spite of public denials that there was no such collusion, there may have been an underlying fear that Comey’s digging was going to unearth something unsavoury that might damage the Trump presidency.
Conspiracy theorists would have us believe that, maybe, the FBI was getting too close to the truth and that this was another reason the President wanted Comey out. Comparisons were made with the Nixon era when, in 1973, that Republican Party President of the United States fired Archibald Cox, a special prosecutor appointed by the attorney general, because his investigation into the Watergate affair was getting too close to the truth and Nixon wanted to shut it down.
After the furore the dismissal caused, Richard E Nixon subsequently resigned and ended his days in disgrace and will certainly not figure among the pantheon of great American presidents. Could history repeat itself 44 years later?
Erstwhile FBI Director Comey may be gone from his job, but he still has a lot of influence in the intelligence community. It will be interesting to see what further insights, if any, he is prepared to give to the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence about how the FBI investigation into possible Russian interference in last year’s presidential election was going up to the time of his enforced departure.
What he might tell them and how they would wish to use such information will have a big bearing on any possible fall-out from Comey’s firing for President Trump. One way or another, it is vital that the truth is established and that the acting FBI Director fulfils the promise he made to the Select Committee that the investigation will be exhaustively completed in the interests of openness and transparency.