President Donald Trump may not have been in office for long, but his young presidency has been rather unprecedented so far. Everything from his campaign promise to build a “big, beautiful wall” on the U.S.-Mexico border to his administration’s ongoing crusade against immigrants, women and both racial and religious minorities has been a source of concern for many across the country.
He is also not kind to his critics, whom he mostly refers to as his “many enemies,” and does not tolerate anyone standing in his way — his recent firing of FBI Director James Comey is an example of that.
While there isn’t really a good way to find out you’ve lost your job, Comey found out about his termination while he was addressing FBI employees in Los Angeles. As the story goes, he was speaking on a podium when suddenly the TVs in background broke the news of his dismissal — which was quite fitting given Trump’s history as a reality TV star famous for shouting “you’re fired” at his game show participants.
Many found it deeply absurd.
Why would Trump, on advice of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, fire Comey when they both, on one more than occasion, commended him for his handling of the email investigation?
The thing is, Comey was not just investigating former secretary of state’s emails, he was also looking into Russian involvement in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
He is also not the only one to have been fired for looking into the matter — former acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara lost their jobs for the very same reasons as well.
“They fired Sally Yates. They fired Preet Bharara and they fired James Comey, the very man leading he investigation. This does not seem to be a coincidence,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “Any person who he appoints to lead the Russian investigation will be concerned that he or she will meet the same fate as Director Comey.”
“It's a grotesque abuse of power by the president of the United States,” legal analyst and former federal prosecutor Jeff Toobin told CNN. “This is the kind of thing that goes on in non-democracies.”
EVERYONE who cares about independence & rule of law in America should be "troubled by the timing and reasoning" of Comey firing. Period. https://t.co/nAFX0OnuvH— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) May 10, 2017
Bharara, one of the 46 Obama-appointed prosecutors Sessions ordered to resign in March, said he was fired after he refused to step down when the Trump administration asked him to.
The prosecutor’s area of expertise was high-profile corruption. Over the course of his career, he had prosecuted many Republican and Democrat lawmakers, as well as Wall Street bankers. He made history by winning a $1.8 billion insider-trading case against hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors.
At the time of his dismissal, he was investigating a fundraising initiative by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and a case of sexual harassment filed against Fox News by its employees. Moreover, a group of ethics watchdogs had also asked him to gauge whether Trump’s many business interests violated the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
For those unaware, the Emoluments Clause says "no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the U.S. government], shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State."
Trump fires FBI director James Comey a day after the acting-Attorney General he fired, Sally Yates, testified before Congress— Shane Goldmacher (@ShaneGoldmacher) May 9, 2017
The former acting attorney general was removed from her temporary position over her refusal to support the president’s xenophobic Muslim travel ban.
“The acting attorney general, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said at the time.
Interestingly, the decision to fire her came shortly after she alerted the administration about former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn’s alleged contacts with the Russian ambassador to the U.S. and the potential dangers associated.
Yates recently appeared on the Capitol Hill to testify about Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“We believed that Gen. Flynn was compromised with respect to the Russians,” she told the Senate during her testimony. “Logic would tell you that you don't want the national security adviser to be in a position where the Russians have leverage over him.”
It is scary how anyone who dares to investigate Trump ends up losing their job.
This is not how democracies work.