09 May 2017
James Comey angered so many people in both major parties during his tenure as FBI director that it's tempting to suspect that he was doing something right, but the truth is more likely that his incompetence managed to infuriate everyone, only never all at once. Just a few days ago, Hillary Clinton suggested that, if not for Comey's overdramatic intervention in October 2016, she would be President today. At the time, candidate Donald Trump applauded Comey for revealing that the email investigation was still in progress, only to rage at Comey days later when the director said, in effect, "never mind." A recent report detailing Comey's screw-ups at that time seems to have triggered President Trump's decision to fire Comey today, but his action has raised a question of timing for those who expected Comey to be canned the moment Trump took office. Democrats now seem to want to portray Comey as a victim or martyr, their conspiracy theory being that the director must have gotten too close for Trump's comfort to the truth of his (or his campaign's, or his advisers') ties to Russia. For partisans and never-Trumpers, Comey's dismissal is the smoke that virtually proves the fire of collusion with Vladimir Putin. From that perspective, Trump's action is akin to President Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre," when the Attorney-General and his deputy resigned rather than obey the President's order to fire the Watergate special prosecutor, while the New York Times has also reminded readers that President Clinton fired an FBI director appointed by President Reagan, but waited until six months into his term to do so. Some hysterics have described Comey's removal as something like a coup d'etat. I personally heard someone say "America is dead." That means it's time to take a breath. While there may be understandable concern over whether Trump will appoint a director inclined to prosecute/persecute the President's political or personal opponents, it's also fair to ask whether Donald Trump really has given us reason to think that more likely under him than under any previous President. I think he's owed a little benefit of the doubt on that score, while Comey pretty much squandered his benefits some time ago. I say that without passing judgment on the investigations in which he has participated. It just seems that the man was not up to the challenges of this moment in American political history.