Many pundits and politicians are making comparisons between Comey’s dismissal and
That is certainly not the reason the White House gave for the surprise sacking. Trump’s team offered various generalities about Comey having lost the confidence of the people he oversaw at the FBI (without giving proof of that contention), but the key justification offered was Comey’s botched handling of the investigation into
It seems a wee bit more likely that Trump developed a jaundiced opinion of the FBI chief after Comey appeared before a congressional committee and dropped the bombshell news that the bureau is trying to find out if there was collusion between Russian agents and key people in the Trump campaign.
Trump has repeatedly characterized reports of Russian links to his associates as "a hoax," "a charade" and "fake news." He has also refused to accept the unanimous verdict of U.S. intelligence agencies that the Russians conducted a serious, multifaceted attack to undermine the 2016 presidential election. He has sent out his minions to loudly proclaim that it is time to move on from all this old news about Russia. Pretty much everything Trump has done suggests that, even if he is not hiding some impeachable offense, the Russia questions are really getting under his skin.
Even his letter telling Comey to pack his bags confirmed his agitation with the issue. In a sentence that has gotten everyone talking, 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." Why did Trump need to insert mention of the Russia investigation into the letter if that is not a factor in Comey's dismissal?
The White House is contending that the decision to remove Comey was urged on Trump by Deputy Atty. Gen. Rod Rosenstein, but an alternative scenario is coming out that describes an annoyed president who tasked Rosenstein with finding excuses to dump Comey.
It is significant that Trump sent his own private bodyguard to deliver the dismissal letter to Comey at FBI headquarters — that shows how personal it was to him. Unfortunately, nobody bothered to check on Comey's whereabouts. As it turned out, the director learned he was out of a job when he looked up at a TV screen while talking with FBI staff in Los Angeles.
That little detail alone shows the ineptness of Trump and his team. Their amateurishness is further evidenced by their apparent surprise that Comey's firing sparked a firestorm of criticism. Apparently, they thought Democrats would be happy to see Hillary's nemesis depart and did not expect Republicans to care much at all. Maybe they believed no one was actually serious about the Russia investigations. But, just as Nixon's attempts to stifle the probe into his coverup led to congressional investigations, Trump's ham-fisted actions have only enhanced chances that a special prosecutor will be appointed to look into the shadowed corners of the Trump campaign.
It is entirely possible Trump is completely innocent, but he appears unable to stop doing dumb things that make him look as if he's got something to hide.