In a move that shocked people on both sides of the aisle, in the Bureau, and (by all accounts) within his own White House, President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Here are ten quick thoughts about a story that has managed to do what seemed impossible during the Trump era: It surprised the hell out of us.
- Let’s start with this basic fact: Trump’s Comey firing is exactly what you think it is.
- While there’s no doubt there was wrongdoing around him, I’ve never been entirely sure that Trump himself committed a crime … until now. Trump has backed Americans into a corner. Comey was fired because of his handling of the email case? It’s so laughable that even the world’s leading purveyors of lies and falsehoods can’t expect you to believe such hogwash. There’s only one way to read this: Comey was fired because of the Russian investigation. Trump canned the guy who was investigating him. Even if Trump never colluded with Russia, he definitely did this.
- When my kids ask me to explain irony, I’ll tell them the story of the guy who finally quit smoking, only to be run over by a cigarette truck a few weeks later. When they ask me to explain obstruction of justice, I’ll tell them about Trump firing Comey.
- Let’s ease up on the Nixon comparisons. While it’s true that the obstructionism is Nixonion, the underlying crime is a thousand times worse. And as The New Yorker’s Jeffrey Frank reminds us: “Nixon, for all his misdeeds, understood the Presidency, and the demands of his job. He was fascinated by history, and the geopolitics of his world, and understood both. In foreign policy, if he didn’t always act wisely, he acted consistently; it’s inconceivable that he would have found himself in the incoherent foreign-policy muddle in which Trump has put himself.”
- Trump’s words are always what come back to haunt him. And this situation will be no exception. In what historians will come to refer to as The Second Paragraph, Trump wrote: “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgment of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau.” First, this is the clearest tell in the history of tells. An eight year-old could surmise from this paragraph that the firing was about the Russia investigation and that the president is trying to cover something up. (I know, because I asked mine). Second, even in his letter, Trump passes the buck to the Justice Department, with whom he merely concurs. Reality Show Trump at least had the guts to fire people to their face. President Trump had a buck-passing letter delivered by his bodyguard to an office 3,000 miles away from where its intended recipient was at the time. Friggin Gary Busey was shown more respect than that.
- There have now been several reports that Trump thought the firing would be seen as a win-win by members of both parties and that he was “taken aback” when Chuck Shumer told him the firing was a big mistake. You don’t need a PhD in psychology or a stack of Rorschach cards to make a least one determination: If he really believed this firing would be no big deal, he’s roger-stone-cold nuts.
- Nixon updated: “I’m not a crook (compared to Donald Trump).”
- Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russian investigation and then fired the guy leading that investigation. Seriously, you could spend your entire life looking, and you’d never find an honest human who holds Jeff Sessions in higher regard than James Comey.
- Remember how incredibly smart, fair, and impressive Sally Yates was during her Senate testimony? Those are the kinds of people Trump likes to fire.
- Three days into his tenure, President Trump blew James Comey a kiss and said, “He’s become more famous than me.” Just wait…
Bonus: In one move, Trump went from half the country being after him to almost the whole country being after him. This is your great negotiator.