On Tuesday, May 9, President Donald Trump abruptly fired James Comey, the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, who happened to be spearheading a criminal investigation into whether Trump’s campaign intentionally conspired with Russia to alter the 2016 general election in his favor.
The Trump administration,“explained the firing by citing Mr. Comey’s handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server, even though the president was widely seen to have benefited politically from that inquiry,” according to the New York Times. The clear conflict of interest surrounding Comey’s dismissal forces serious ethical concerns to rise.
Editorial headlines such as Chicago Sun-Times’ “Nobody fooled by Trump’s excuse for firing James Comey” draw harsh parallels to President Richard Nixon’s Watergate crimes, “who as president in 1973 fired Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor looking into [Watergate].”
“Ultimately, the President has the authority to choose who performs the duties of the Director of the F.B.I. . .if [Trump] feels Director Comey was not effective, I think it’s probably a good thing he was fired,” senior Jon Redmann said.
Comey claims during a dinner with President Trump, Trump “turned the conversation to whether Mr. Comey would pledge his loyalty to him. Mr. Comey declined to make that pledge.” This conversation was dismissed as inaccurate by press secretary Sean Spicer.
“[Comey’s firing] gives the real appearance that Donald Trump is using personal grudges against James Comey to influence what is supposed to be a nonpartisan position,” senior Zach Harris said.
Immediately following Comey’s dismissal, Trump met with Henry Kissinger, Secretary of State under the Nixon Administration, and Sergey Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister. These meetings indicate a lack of effort by the Trump administration to settle the national concerns surrounding Trump’s alleged illegal collusions with the Russian government throughout the 2016 presidential campaign process.
“These were meetings that had been on the books for a while,” deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders said.
Concerns orbiting Russian collusion with the Trump campaign peaked in early February 2017, when “former national security adviser Michael Flynn was fired for lying about his contacts with [Russian Ambassador to the United States] Kislyak,” according to CNN.
Andrew G. McAbe, previous Deputy Director of the F.B.I, was sworn in as Acting Director of the F.B.I. on May 9. “I hold Director Comey in the absolute highest regard. I have the highest respect for his considerable abilities and his integrity,” McCabe told members of the Senate intelligence committee after Comey’s dismissal.
The Watergate scandal, under the Nixon administration, is historically regarded as the peak of corruption and abuse of power in the United States. These echoes of such a nefarious time raise strong and serious public concern.
Featured image courtesy of Al Drago/The New York Times