The White House has changed its tune about James Comey, with far-reaching consequences
Chicago, May 10.─ James Comey had no intention to leave his job. “You are stuck with me for about six and a half years,” said the former deputy attorney-general, who was appointed as the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation by Barack Obama at a cyber-conference in Boston in March 2013. But it was not to be. On May 9th the next president, Donald Trump, sent Mr Comey a letter informing him that his attorney-general and deputy attorney-general had recommended his dismissal—and that he had accepted their recommendation.
In his brief letter to Mr Comey, Mr Trump said he was firing him because he was not able to lead the bureau effectively. In a longer memorandum, Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney-general, cast Mr Comey’s dismissal entirely as the result of his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private e-mail server during her tenure as secretary of state. “The FBI’s reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage, and it has affected the entire Department of Justice,” wrote Mr Rosenstein. “I cannot defend the director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s e-mails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.”
Even so, the salient facts of how Mr Comey handled the investigation into Mrs Clinton’s e-mails were well known when Mr Trump became president. The new president and Jeff Sessions, his attorney-general, even praised Mr Comey on several occasions for having reopened the probe into Mrs Clinton’s e-mails less than two weeks before the presidential election last year. “It took guts for Director Comey to make the move that he made in light of the kind of opposition he had where they are trying to protect her from criminal prosecution,” said Mr Trump on October 31st. “You know that. It took a lot of guts.”
Democrats were swift to connect Mr Comey’s dismissal to an ongoing probe into high-level contacts with Russia. “The decision by a president whose campaign associates are under investigation by the FBI for collusion with Russia to fire the man overseeing that investigation, upon the recommendation of an attorney-general who has recused himself from that investigation, raises profound questions about whether the White House is brazenly interfering in a criminal matter,” said Adam Schiff, a Democratic congressman from California who sits on the House intelligence committee, in a statement. The House committee is charged with looking into Russian interference in the election ...
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