5 things we’ve learned since Trump’s stunning firing of Comey
When Donald Trump abruptly fired FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday, it appears his White House was wholly unprepared for what came next.
Reporting since then has revealed that Trump and his advisers simultaneously believed that Democrats would be pleased with the move and that Comey’s unwillingness to pledge loyalty to Trump justified the decision. Though Comey has not yet spoken publicly on his dismissal, Congressional Democrats and some Republicans are getting increasingly queasy about the White House’s careless attitude toward the independence of the bureau.
To bring you up to speed, here are five things you should know about the crisis unfolding in the Beltway:
- Trump was angry that Comey wouldn’t kill the Russia investigation: Though it’s unclear what the FBI investigation of the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia will dig up, Trump has reportedly been transfixed by the horrible press he has gotten because of it. Additionally, Comey declined to prioritize investigations of government leaks the way Trump would have liked, he refused to back Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that he was being wiretapped by the Obama administration, and infuriated Trump with his quip to Congress that he felt “mildly nauseous” about the possibility that his actions might have swayed how the election turned out. [Washington Post]
- The investigation was actually ramping up at the time Comey was fired: Instead of halting the investigation, Comey asked for more resources to pursue it and testified to Congress about it without giving the White House advance notice of what he was going to say. And things had begun heating up: In the weeks before he was fired, Comey had shifted from weekly to daily briefings on the state of the investigation. [Wall Street Journal]
- Agents inside the FBI are “stunned”: Prior to the election, the FBI was considered “Trumpland,” however opinions of agents inside in the bureau have quickly soured on Trump’s administration. Comey’s firing has rattled FBI staffers, who say that the White House is lying when it claims that the FBI’s “rank and file” supported the firing [New York Times]. Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe told the Senate Intelligence Committee Thursday that “Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI.”
Acting FBI Director McCabe: "Director Comey enjoyed broad support within the FBI. And still does to this day." pic.twitter.com/7OE5U5K4QW
— CSPAN (@cspan) May 11, 2017
- The Republican legislative agenda is in jeopardy: John McCain helped sink a Trump-backed bill to repeal some environmental regulations, and Democrat Ron Wyden put a hold in the Senate on a Trump nomination — two moves linked to the White House’s perceived stonewalling of the Russia investigation. More broadly, Republicans are concerned that the Russia-Comey crisis will prevent them from making any headway on key agenda items like the AHCA or tax reform. Democrats, however, appear reluctant to push their advantage. [Vox]
- Appointing a special prosecutor will be more complicated than you might think: Scores of Democrats are calling for a special prosecutor (also called a “special counsel”) to take charge of the Russia investigation. The catch: The one guy with the authority to make that decision is Rod Rosenstein, the Justice Department official who wrote the memo laying out the case for firing Comey. [VICE News]