May 9 started as an ordinarily confusing and disorganized day at the Trump White House. When asked whether the White House has confidence in Comey, Sean Spicer hedged and said he needed to ask the President. A few hours later, James Comey learned that he had been fired as FBI Director when the news media reported it. At some point in the day, he received a certifiably bizarre letter from Donald Trump, saying “I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation” and then firing him. Earlier this hour, CNN reported that grand jury subpoenas had been issued to associates of former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, saying it had learned of the subpoenas hours before Comey was fired. I think the chaotic, characteristically ill-executed firing of James Comey was a consequence of the progress of the Flynn prosecution, and the media’s awareness of it.
This is NOT about Hillary’s e-mails
I’m not one for excessive conjecture, but it doesn’t take an avid conspiracy theorist to conclude that Trump’s excuse for firing Comey is a pretext. Trump’s ostensible reason, as outlined in a very competent analysis by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, is that Comey deserved to be fired because he mishandled the conduct of his investigation into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails, largely by discussing the investigation publicly and opining on whether she was prosecutable, which is not the FBI’s job (all true). However, given that the President and the Attorney General were fully supportive of this action until this morning reveals this justification as only the thinnest of pretexts.
Some say this termination has something to do with Comey’s mischaracterization of Huma Abedin’s use of e-mail on her home computer, and his subsequent “correction” of his misstatement. That explanation makes little to no sense. Comey’s initial statement supported Trump’s narrative. His need to walk it back, or at least to soften it, has been a constant theme in the Trump Administration. I think the explanation is a whole lot simpler than that.
It’s a pathetically transparent attempt to CYA
Donald Trump and his associates have been acting as if they are hiding something since the day they took office. Michael Flynn, Jeff Sessions, and Jared Kushner have all been caught in significant lies about ties to foreign powers, particularly Russia. It cannot be a coincidence that, on the day we discover a grand jury has been convened to consider the alleged criminal activities of Michael Flynn, Trump uses a very public termination letter to the man investigating Flynn to assert that Trump himself has never been under investigation. I don’t think we’ll know the full story anytime soon, but I don’t think we need to look far to figure out why an impulsive, reactionary, ignorant President decided to fire the nation’s Top Cop the day the country found out one of the architects of his campaign is in the early stages of a criminal prosecution.