by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
It’s too early to take away any clear lessons from the Trump era, except one: Whatever you do, never fire the FBI director.
Yes, as president, it is fully within your power to cashier inferior executive-branch officers. But if the aftermath of the James Comey firing is any indication, it risks backlash from FBI and Justice Department officials who will take umbrage — and extraordinary steps in response.
This is the upshot of the 60 Minutes interview of former Deputy Director Andrew McCabe. The Comey firing was ham-fisted and unsettling given the ongoing investigation of Russian interference into the 2016 election. But what ensued was an embarrassing freakout by law-enforcement officials entrusted with awesome powers. …
… Consider the lunacy of this: By providing Trump with a memo justifying Comey’s firing, Rosenstein participated in the scheme that the FBI considered a possible crime, or the culmination of a Russian plot. Then Rosenstein turned around and appointed a special counsel, whom he oversaw, to investigate the possible crime to which he was a party.
It’s also absurd that the FBI officials considered the firing of Comey to be potential obstruction of the investigation that they were continuing, and indeed making more serious by making the president an explicit target.
The comments that Trump made about Russia that McCabe and Co. found so disturbing were hardly damning. In his cover letter over Rosenstein’s memo, Trump mentioned that Comey had told him three times that he wasn’t under investigation. This was true, and Trump was frustrated that Comey wouldn’t make it public. That doesn’t make him a Russian agent.