Some Really Good Questions about the Comey Firing

First, wow (via WaPo):

the private accounts of more than 30 officials at the White House, the Justice Department, the FBI and on Capitol Hill, as well as Trump confidants and other senior Republicans, paint a conflicting narrative centered on the president’s brewing personal animus toward Comey.

To have that many person willing is pretty stunning.

The great question:

Why was Sessions involved in discussions about the fate of the man leading the FBI’s Russia investigation, after having recused himself from the probe because he had falsely denied under oath his own past communications with the Russian ambassador?

Why had Trump discussed the Russia probe with the FBI director three times, as he claimed in his letter dismissing Comey, which could have been a violation of Justice Department policies that ongoing investigations generally are not to be discussed with White House officials?

And how much was the timing of Trump’s decision shaped by events spiraling out of his control — such as Monday’s testimony about Russian interference by former acting attorney general Sally Yates, or the fact that Comey last week requested more resources from the Justice Department to expand the FBI’s Russia probe?

And from today in “surprising, but yet not surprising”:

Trump’s team did not have a full-fledged communications strategy for how to announce and then explain the decision. As Trump, who had retired to the residence to eat dinner, sat in front of a television watching cable news coverage of Comey’s firing, he noticed another flaw: Nobody was defending him.

The president was irate, according to White House officials. Trump pinned much of the blame on Spicer and Dubke’s communications operation, wondering how there could be so many press staffers yet such negative coverage on cable news — although he, Priebus and others had afforded them almost no time to prepare.

“This is probably the most egregious example of press and communications incompetence since we’ve been here,” one West Wing official said. “It was an absolute disaster. And the president watched it unfold firsthand. He could see it.”

And oh, the unintentional symbolism of it all:

Spicer, meanwhile, threw together an impromptu news conference with reporters in the White House driveway, a few minutes before he taped a series of short television interviews inside the West Wing, where the lighting was better for the cameras. The press secretary stood alongside tall hedges in near darkness and agreed to answer questions with the cameras shuttered.

“Just turn the lights off,” Spicer ordered. “Turn the lights off. We’ll take care of this.”

h/t:  OTBer Chris Lawrence for highlighting those 30 sources.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Mark Ivey says:

    I’m stockpiling Popcorn today, i’m getting that new high grade microwave s**t that can get popped in under 4 minutes when you get a breaking “Trump doin what?!?” news alert.

  2. Mr. Bluster says:

    fine tuned machine
    HA!

  3. gVOR08 says:

    Trump said I’d be tired of his whining, and I am. What, he didn’t say whining?

  4. Scott says:

    Buffoonery of the highest order. I wonder when the “world is laughing at us” meme begins.

  5. CSK says:

    @gVOR08:

    He did actually say something once about whining till he got his way.

  6. Mikey says:

    My big question today is whether Melissa McCarthy will do the entire SNL cold open from among the bushes.

  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Scott: November 9.

  8. Mikey says:

    @Mikey: Among the bushes is, of course, Spicy’s preferred phrase to describe where he was holed up the other night.

  9. Mikey says:

    Acting FBI Director McCabe just told the Senate intel committee James Comey had not lost the confidence of FBI agents and staff, but “enjoyed broad support within the FBI and still does to this day.”

    This of course contradicts the official White House narrative.

  10. gVOR08 says:

    @Mikey: No way to get hard data on the attitude of agents prior to the firing, but I’d expect having their boss unceremoniously fired for stated reasons that wouldn’t fool a dull fifth grader has to piss them off.

    However, nobody is addressing a thing that worries me no end. There was reporting that agents in the NY office were out to get Hillary and maneuvered Comey into making the statement about re-opening the investigation by threatening to leak the story. There apparently had been leaks from the NY office to Giuliani. Is any of this true? How many agents were involved? Have they been disciplined or countered in any way? How wide spread it this in the Bureau? Law enforcement types tend to run right wing. An awful lot of people follow and believe RW media. We’re finding out Customs and Border Protection were a group of closet fascists waiting to be set free. Is there a right wing cabal within the FBI?

  11. gVOR08 says:

    @Mikey:

    My big question today is whether Melissa McCarthy will do the entire SNL cold open from among the bushes.

    Probably, closing with – Oh, a fresh tweet from my mas…the President. He’s asking for suggestions to fill the newly open position as Press Secretary. Wait! What!? What’s that idiot think he’s doing now?

  12. Mikey says:

    @gVOR08: I suppose it’s reasonable to assume FBI agents run conservative, although maybe less so than you’d think given they’re all college educated (Bachelor’s degree is a requirement). But Comey was highly regarded by agents and staff, and the way he was fired has no doubt created a great deal of animus in the Bureau.

    And there’s likely an additional concern: will Trump nominate someone actually suitable for the job, or yet another unqualified buffoon he chooses based on his childlike vision of what an FBI Director should look like?

  13. Joe says:

    I put Trump’s assertion that Comey had told him three times that he was not the subject of an investigation in same category as Trump’s assertion that Representative Cummings had told him he would be one of history’s great presidents.

  14. gVOR08 says:

    @Mikey: @Mikey: I think he was planning to appoint Giuliani, until the scheissesturm over the firing hit.

  15. dazedandconfused says:

    Re:
    “The press secretary stood alongside tall hedges in near darkness and agreed to answer questions with the cameras shuttered.”

    I believe there is an explanation for Spicer’s behavior: Melissa McCarthy is hosting SNL this week.

    Occum’s Razor…

  16. DrDaveT says:

    @gVOR08:

    I think he was planning to appoint Giuliani, until the scheissesturm over the firing hit.

    A non-conservative colleague of mine thought that the perfect nomination would be Merrick Garland. He was stunned to then see this story.

  17. Mikey says:

    @gVOR08:

    scheissesturm

    The Germans actually say it in English: “shitstorm.” It’s hilarious.