President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey this evening in a surprise move.  Various politicians and the media have openly referred to the act as “Nixonian” and “another Saturday Night Massacre.”  I have previously stated how the Saturday Day Massacre has been misrepresented.  I also do not agree with Jeff Toobin on CNN tonight that the decision was clearly due to the fact that Comey’s investigation was getting “too close” to President Trump.  I do not see how one can reach that conclusion after months of criticism over Comey’s past conduct, including widespread anger from Democrats over his public statements on Hillary Clinton.  I agree that the timing is concerning and legitimately questioned.  However, the Administration may also have waited for the Deputy Attorney General to be confirmed to allow a career prosecutor to review the matter and to concur with the decision.  Democrats denounced Comey over his actions regarding the Clinton Administration.  The matter was given to the Deputy Attorney General who was just confirmed recently.

President Trump took efforts in his letter state that Comey assured him that he was not under investigation.  He stated that  “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the bureau.”

The White House released a memorandum from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a respected career prosecutor.  He found that Comey’s prior conduct did “substantial damage” to the FBI’s “reputation and credibility.”  He noted that the FBI Director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and assume command of the Justice Department” and that his conduct was “a textbook example of what federal prosecutors and agents are taught not to do.”

Rosentstein served in both Republican and Democratic administrations. He is not viewed as a political hack.  Moreover, the firing of Comey results in the elevation of an individual widely denounced by Republicans: Andrew McCade.  That would hardly be an optimal political switch.  The question is whether the White House will bypass McCade due to his political controversy involving his wife and select someone else to serve as acting FBI Director.

Notably, Comey’s testimony last week resulted in a correction issued today by the FBI as to one of his representations.  After that hearing, a source referred to Comey in saying that he was “as popular as cholera” on the Hill.

FBI directors generally hold 10-year term limits and cannot be reappointed, but Comey’s predecessor, Robert Mueller III was given special permission by Congress to serve an extra two years.  However, the director is effectively an at-will employee who serves at the pleasure of the president.  Only one president has fired a director.  In 1993, President Bill Clinton fired William Sessions after the Justice Department’s Office of Professional Responsibility found ethical problems involving the use of FBI plane to visit his daughter and the payment for a security system installed in his home 


  1. I know for sure that if Clinton won the election Comey would have been gone on 1/20/2017. but it seems no news outlet is letting the people know that the Russian conspiracy will go on by the f.b.i. and only God knows by who else and for how long. it seems to me that the democrats are trying to avoid the indictment and prosecution of Clinton and the Weiner family. every politician in the democrat party hated Comey until one second after he was fired and all of a sudden he is a martyr. does this make sense ?

  2. Comey’s firing has brought out the hypocrisy of Democrats. They wanted him fired over his comments on Hillary, publicly called for on TV. They didn’t tell Comey’s face-to-face. Although,
    Trump never had trouble firing people on TV. And for Hillary, your loss was about your campaigning. Whoever advised you, leaving out states Trump spent more time. Also, Obama almost assured a Republican win due to his policies.

  3. Prof. Turley – what happened to you? I greatly enjoyed you as a professor not that many years ago at GW, but you seem to almost have become a Trump shill or at least defender in recent days. Your USAToday piece on Yates was over the top, as well. Also, for an academic, I’d suggest some proofreading to be in order. “President Trump took efforts in his letter state that Comey assured him that he was not under investigation.” Huh? Also, it’s McCabe not McCade.

    Your ultimate conclusion that Trump may just now be firing Comey because the Deputy AG just came on board just doesn’t carry any water. This is really the first act of the new Deputy AG? And right after Comey went to the DAG requesting additional resources for the investigation? It looks like Toobin, not you, was correct. This was purely political.

      • No, I’m expecting him to “write” like an intellectual legal scholar, not someone blindly supporting the President and his stooges.

        • JC,
          You could always send him examples of what you believe represents the work of “an intellectual legal scholar” and that might just earn you a guest blogger spot. You could also start your own blog. Either way, I’m fairly confident he doesn’t actually care what you “expect”.

    • Turley and most commenters on this site used to be center-left, but the whole atmosphere here has lurched substantially to the right in recent years. I’m not sure what brought this about. Turley has never commented on it, to the best of my knowledge.

      • Oh, there is an easy answer to that. More conservative commenters started speaking up, and the center-left people did not have the intellectual capacity to survive in a non-echo chamber environment. Kind of like the SJW snowflakes, who can’t tolerate speech that disagrees with their opinions.

        Sooo, when confronted by stuff like evidence, facts, logic, and reasoning— the center left people here skedaddled for the hills, and the comfort of liberal echo chambers. I wrote them all a poem, several years ago, in sympathy with their plight:

        The Echo Chambers of Yesteryear
        A Poem by Squeeky Fromm

        The Echo Chambers of Yesteryear
        Are calling to me now.
        The comforting sounds of my own voice
        To soothe my weary brow.

        Voices echoing my own thoughts
        Reverberate around.
        I lay my head upon my hands
        And listen to the sound.

        And nary one dischordant note
        Is plucked within this womb.
        No flats, no sharps, unless in key
        Are heard within this room.

        And here, my mind in safe repose
        In silken threads is twirled
        As Echo Chambers of Yesteryear
        Cocoon me from the World.

        Squeeky Fromm
        Girl Reporter

  4. Comey ALWAYS had the option to resign. Even the military provides subordinates a process to challenge seniors that abuse their authority. The nanosecond after Comey first decided to abandon his principles for politics is the moment He owned the outcome of that decision.

    • A charitable construction of his conduct was that he was attempting to lay out for the public the contours of Hillary’s misconduct while preventing Lynch & co. from having the last word. No way the Holder-Lynch Lawfare squad would have had the professionalism to prosecute Hilligula had he played it straight. So, he leaves them in a position where all they can manage is awkward silence.

  5. Jim Comey will go down as a dedicated public servant who got caught in the crossfire of the 2016 Presidential race, with its outside interference by Russian intelligence, self-serving excesses of both major party establishments, media bias bordering on zealotry, and citizen resolve to force change on a sclerotic DC establishment and fifth-estate elitism.

    We don’t know the extent to which the FBI and Intel Sector was blemished by political activism, except to say that a damaging Loretta Lynch memo has been uncovered pledging to “do everything in my power to forestall indictment” of Hillary Clinton. Yet, there isn’t really any roadmap in the Justice Dept. and FBI, nor in the foreign Intel Sector, about how to deal with candidate and campaign illegal misconduct during election season. Heck, we don’t even have a definition of when election season is, it having become perpetual motion machine.

    Jim Comey’s “impossible situation” has at its heart the desire of law enforcement to 1) stay out of political campaigns, and 2) enforce the laws of the land without regard to the stature of the perpetrator, two values on a collision course. In dealing with the Clinton server matter, we have an Atty General who worked out of the public eye to exculpate Mrs. Clinton and her closest staff from legal consequences for their assumed evasion of FOIA, which was what led to multiple violations of handling classified material. We may never know whether Lynch would have applied the same standard to a Republican candidate. Even worse, we don’t ourselves even debate what protections against legal oppo-activism we should cede to candidates for the Highest Office. Clearly, most Americans would detest a new form of campaign warfare which attempts to use the FBI and Justice Dept. to pursue petty, technicality-level infractions of federal law. On the other hand, we need the deterrence that arises from threat of indictment to keep candidates’ and their operatives’ behavior in line. But, the actual threshold for investigation and indictment is undefined.

    Mrs. Clinton’s moves to skirt FOIA by using a private email server are not necessarily riddled with malice toward public accountability. The FOIA law, originally intended to serve the public with transparency, has evolved into an oppo-research tool, where it becomes a power-tool in the quest for ad hominem, partisan trench warfare. The greatest long-term threat to our democracy is that people of great accomplishment simply refuse to step forward to run for office under a “scortched Earth” campaign system. I’m willing to cede to Mrs. Clinton “the assumption of innocence” that her motives in setting up the server were to merely level the playing field against Republican operatives out to destroy her in a sophisticated, digital infowarfare milieu.

    We can only hope in time that events conspire to force Americans into a debate about how to protect candidates from ad hominem oppo-research that employs lawyers as warriors whose role is to manipulate the legal system into doing damage to the opponent’s reputation, viability and eligibility as a candidate.
    If we don’t draw the line at keeping campaign warfare out of the legal system, still fewer exceptional leaders of good character will be willing to run for office.

      • A few days ago, someone said that Comey was “about as popular as cholera with both political parties”.
        The “PR Aspect” of Comey’s termination is just starting.
        Given the way that Comey was fired, and who fired him, one party now finds him much more popular than cholera.
        In some respects, this PR game will be as interesting to observe as the legal matters that are being investigated.
        At this point, I don’t think it’s possible to predict Comey’s legacy.

  6. I continue to believe that leaders of law enforcement agencies should be independent of whims of politicians who have vested self-interests above that of their offices. Elected sheriffs are one such example. At least here they personally do not answer to county commissioners (other than budgetary constraints and codification of county ordinances). But having so many LEAs on the federal level I agree this might not be practical. In a compromise, the attorney general should also be separate from the executive, and in our state the position is elected by the voters.

    In another matter, without addressing the merits of terminating Mr. Comey’s employment, the manner for which he was informed was dishonorable. President Trump if he was to fire anybody should have at least the courage and consideration to fire him in person, not to have Mr. Comey learn of this at some random time from others–such as while speaking in public. Unless there was some national security interest necessitating such a swift termination, it can wait a few hours until he returns to Washington and perform this in a proper venue.

    • President Trump if he was to fire anybody should have at least the courage and consideration to fire him in person, not to have Mr. Comey learn of this at some random time from others–such as while speaking in public. Unless there was some national security interest necessitating such a swift termination, it can wait a few hours until he returns to Washington and perform this in a proper venue.

      The President is on a tight schedule and the Attorney-General intervenes in the chain of command. Gerald Ford dismissed James Schlesinger and William Colby face-to-face. Both were direct reports, one in charge of a cabinet department and one of a stand-alone agency with a large budget. John Frohnmeyer, who was chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts under George Bush the Elder, was formally a direct report, but ran a minor agency; he was informed he was dismissed by the President’s chief of staff. I think leaving the task to the Attroney-General or his deputy was appropriate.

      • I thought the Attorney General had recused himself from anything directly or indirectly related to the Russian inquiry …..

  7. Michael Beschloss

    J. Edgar Hoover took over what became the FBI today 1924: #Getty

    It’s too bad that somebody didn’t fire Hoover somewhere along the way.

    • By the time it became clear that Hoover was dangerous, he had too much blackmail material on other public figures.

    • Hoover couldn’t get fired, he had lots of secret stuff on everybody. At least that was the story.

  8. I continue to be amused by the constant efforts of many to attribute Mr. Trump’s decisions to coherent, rational thinking. The Comey firing is not complicated. Trump has become increasingly annoyed by the various investigations into alleged Russian connections with his campaign. Comey’s pursuit of the investigation was a sign of disloyalty. When Trump decides someone has been disloyal, he fires that person. He fired Comey because he can. All of the after-the-fact explanations by the White House are fluff.

    • I continue to be amused by the constant efforts of many to pretend they have direct knowledge of what actually annoys or motivates Trump. If they had any real knowledge, they would be accurately predicting his actions instead of providing a postmortem.

      • Mr. Trump is unpredictable because he operates on the basis of emotion and impulse, and that is precisely why his views on any given topic can change within the space of a day.

        • No. That isn’t true. But it is something that you desperately need to believe to protect your ego. Because if Trump isn’t emotional, then he might actually be intelligent, and that means that maybe you aren’t right about everything after all. And Democrats are like the Aristocrats of several centuries ago. They deem themselves having superior intellect simply by virtue of who they are. That is why you see so many Democrats on this website cluelessly offering up their opinion, or their conclusion about a thing, as superior to any actual facts or evidence about a thing. Heck, who needs inconvenient things like facts or evidence, when you are an intellectually and morally superior Democrat???

          There’s some free psychoanalysis for you!

          Squeeky Fromm
          Girl Reporter

          • Wow. I see that you disagree. But you can skip the free psychoanalysis. I do not “desperately need to believe” anything and have no interest in pointless arguments about moral or intellectual superiority. My opinion of Mr. Trump is based on what I have observed in his public appearances, his public statements, his appointment choices and his daily reaction to events. Try as I might (with my limited capacities), I have been unable to discern within the man any core set of values or philosophical beliefs. He is needy, petulant, emotionally stunted and boorish. Frankly, I will be surprised should he survive a single term in office.

            • In all seriousness, your statement “I have been unable to discern within the man any core set of values or philosophical beliefs. He is needy, petulant, emotionally stunted and boorish. ” is a walking, talking, crawling upon its belly like a reptile, screaming textbook manifestation of PSYCHOLOGICAL PROJECTION.

              I know that you truly believe that you are simply offering intelligent, arm’s-length opinions about Trump, but to the trained eye, the things you say are just blatant self-defense mechanisms. It is like when the FBI BAU Team goes to a crime scene, and the poor victim has been stabbed 198 times, and one of the Investigators drolly says, “Hmmm. I think this was personal. . . ”

              Duh! Calling Captain Obvious! This is the same conclusion one comes to when reading your Trump putdowns. They are gross overkill, and far beyond intelligent commentary, or even a competent evidentiary basis. Thus, your comments reveal more about yourself, and your mental functioning, than they do about Trump.

              Please consider seeking professional help. If you can come to understand the deep emotional roots of your thought processes, then increased happiness will not be the direct result, but instead, an indirect result of better understanding of your own humanity, and coming to grips with it.

              Squeeky Fromm
              Girl Reporting

              • For Pete’s sake, I have closely followed Trump since he first announced his candidacy. The guy’s a moral slob. And why in the world would I seek advice from the “trained eye” of someone who hides her identity behind a pseudonymous reference to a member of the Manson cult and once ardently pursued birtherism fantasies? Trained in what, precisely?

                • Why???

                  Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector

                  9 Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else:

                  10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector.

                  11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer ‘I thank you, God, that I am not a sinner like everyone else. For I don’t cheat, I don’t sin, and I don’t commit adultery. I’m certainly not like that tax collector!

                  12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’

                  13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’

                  14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

                  Squeeky Fromm
                  Girl Reporter

                  • Squeek, I apologize for my last comment. It was cruel. However, I have many concerns about Mr. Trump that I consider legitimate and serious, and I find that his supporters tend to dismiss criticism without a willingness to discuss anything in depth.

                    • I didn’t think it was cruel, nor did I need an apology. Sometimes I am just a b*tch, and fully deserve what I get. Plus, I don’t take any of this stuff personally, and I hope that you don’t.

                      And true, you are right that you have a right to an opinion about Trump, and it doesn’t have to agree with mine. FWIW, I also think he has made some boo-boos, but I do not require perfection in a President. But I think sometimes, the criticisms can go too far, way beyond any reasonable basis. A “Freudian Slip” only requires one word. The same with other words and terms that can reveal more about the speaker than the object of the speech. For example, if I slam some other chick, and say she is crazy, irrational, and her boobs are too perfect. Now crazy and irrational, I might get a pass on. But you can bet the “boobs being too perfect” is going to come off as pure jealousy of the boobs. And justifiably so.

                      The same is true of some of the words that you used. For example, ask yourself what kind of a mindset allows one person to call another person “boorish.” Or petty, or childish. Those terms require a speaker to think themselves in a superior position to the object. IMHO, calling Trump “boorish” has a necessary precondition that you consider yourself not-boorish, and more sophisticated than Trump.

                      Which is why I said what I did. Now as to whether I am right or wrong, only you and any potential therapist can know for sure. 🙂

                      Squeeky Fromm
                      Girl Reporter

                  • The truth is that over the course of 40+ years, I have litigated against more than a few mini-Trumps: the guy who sells the single working mom a “reliable” car that breaks down on the way home from the lot; the contractor who rejects a sub’s draw request and agrees to give him enough to meet “net payroll” so that he can at least keep his crew together; the real estate investors who convince an elderly woman to hold a second mortgage, promise to pay off the first, and pay neither while collecting rent on the property until the inevitable foreclosure; the business partner who starts a “side” business with inventory from the partnership; and my favorite, the promoter who solicits monies from members of his own church to invest using “biblical” principles.

                    I have also represented banks and developers and large corporations, but that’s what pays the bills. My main client base is represented by the true examples I noted above, and that’s where most of the damage we do to each other occurs, in situations in which the victims cannot afford attorney’s fees and there are no insurance companies on the other end to satisfy a judgment. LOL. My goal in going to law school was not to make a lot of money, and my wife will tell you that I have ably succeeded in my goal. In any event, I have developed a deep disdain over the years for people who take advantage of employees, or who prosper through fraud or who use bankruptcy as a weapon against those who lack the wherewithal to secure themselves in advance. And that, rightly or wrongly, is how I view Mr. Trump based upon his business dealings and his demonstrated lack of respect for other human beings, Squeeky’s psychiatric observations notwithstanding.

                    • MA,
                      Your wife may agree with your statement but I suspect both of you place a higher value on the work you have done.

                      I have 100% confidence that Donald Trump the citizen has not achieved whatever he has in his private sector dealings without moral blemish. I also believe he has largely succeeded because he could afford to work the law to his advantage. For that I blame those that write and enforce the law. That being said, I’m not concerned with his everlasting soul. My concerns about his character and qualifications for President are now moot. If we are going drag character into the political equation then let’s amend the constitution to require some measurable character standard to be met for qualification for office (and to stay in office). That isn’t going to happen. So lacking that, let’s enforce the standard the framers intended and eliminate every legal maneuver that enables EVERY public servant to ignore their oath of office.

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