President Trump's extraordinary move firing FBI Director James Comey in the midst of an investigation into potential Russian involvement with Trump aides and the election has ramifications that are only beginning to unfold. The trust of judgement in question after Comey's firing is that of trust in President Trump. His latest action has potentially set up his own downfall.
As timelines continue to unfold, it's becoming clear that Trump apparently made the decision to fire the FBI Director after learning of Comey's request for increased resources to continue the Russian investigation. Reports confirm Mr. Comey made that request to Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, the same man who days later wrote the Justice Department’s memo used to justify Comey's firing.
With reports of the investigation into Russia's interference in the 2016 election heating up, President Trump was aware that Federal prosecutors had recently issued grand jury subpoenas to associates of former NSA Advisor Michael Flynn. On Monday Trump heard the testimony of two additional people he's fired, former Acting Attorney General Sally Yates and former Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. They appeared before a Senate Judiciary Committee providing details about Flynn as well as revealing that the intelligence community was looking into Trump's business ties to Russia.
The plausibility of President Trump's continued denials of Russian involvement in the election or his business dealings has increasingly become more difficult. The man protesteth too much going so far as to use his protest of innocence in the second paragraph of his curtly worded termination letter sent to James Comey:
"May 9, 2017
Dear Director Comey,
I have received the attached letters from the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General of the United States recommending your dismissal as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, I have accepted their recommendation and you are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately.
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.
It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission.
I wish you the best of luck in your future endeavors,
Donald J. Trump"
President Trump has let his paranoid insecurity show to the world in a historically important action. James Comey is only the second FBI Director to ever be fired. While the actual Watergate events did not involve firing FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, President Richard Nixon's well documented paranoia took over during the Watergate investigation. The three times that Trump's letter states his thanks to Comey for letting him know that he's not under investigation is as close as you can come to Nixon's now infamous words that preceded his downfall.
On November 18, 1973 President Nixon held a news conferenc edefending his record in the Watergate case and stating he had never profited from his years in public service. Reading the entire reporting of that event by the Washington Post now becomes slightly eerie. Nixon resigned from office on August 8th, 1974. Here are quotes from the article and a link to the story:
“I have earned every cent. And in all of my years of public life I have never obstructed justice,” Mr. Nixon said.
“People have got to know whether or not their President is a crook. Well, I’m not a crook. I’ve earned everything I’ve got.”
Summing up, he declared that the White House tape recordings would prove that he had no prior knowledge of the Watergate break-in, that he never offered executive clemency for the Watergate burglars, and in fact turned it down when it was suggested, and had no knowledge until March 21, 1973, of proposals that blackmail money be paid a convicted Watergate conspirator."
No longer is anything beyond comprehension when it comes to Donald Trump. But his judgement is becoming clouded. The morning after firing former FBI Director Comey, he began his day meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and the Russian Ambassador, Sergei Kislyak, who has been a focal point in our Russian investigation. And if that wasn't enough mingling with the wrong people at the wrong time, the President held a White House meeting shortly after with Richard Nixon's former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger. All within a matter of hours.
The photo op of President Trump sitting next to Henry Kissinger in the Oval Office with investigations swirling around around yet another White House feeds the worst fears of a presidency in danger.