Op-Ed: It’s Possible to Dislike James Comey and His Nixonian Firing
No One Is Above the Lawâ€”Not Even the President of the United States
I proudly supported Hillary Clinton in both the primary and presidential elections.
Not because I believed she was the perfect candidate running the perfect campaign, because no one was or did, but because I felt that she was the most qualified person in my lifetime to seek the presidency.
So itâ€™s probably not a surprise that Iâ€™m no fan of James Comey.
I wasnâ€™t a fan of his when he unsurprisingly announced that â€œno reasonable prosecutorâ€ would bring a case against Clinton for her use of a private email server as Secretary of State, ripe with commentary beneath a supposed non-partisan FBI Director.
I wasnâ€™t a fan of his when he released a letter to Congress less than two weeks before Election Day, which subsequently hit the press, advising that â€œnew evidenceâ€ had been discovered about her email usage. (Obtained without probable cause and leading the FBI to â€œnot change its conclusions.â€)
And I certainly wasnâ€™t a fan of his when her opponent praised Comeyâ€™s actions, exclaiming that the move took guts and â€œbrought back his reputation,â€ nor when Donald Trump was actually elected. (Analysts agreeing that Comeyâ€™s interference impacted the election.)
Iâ€™d have absolutely supported the dismissal of James Comey following his actions last year, and given that the Department of Justiceâ€™s Inspector General had begun to investigate the matter, he may have eventually been ousted.
But that isnâ€™t what happened.
Donald Trump fired Comey, not on January 20th but in May, and only after the former FBI Director agreed that Russia had interfered with our election. After he refused to decry claims of the Trump administrationâ€™s contacts with Russians at their behest.
And most notably, after he announced that the FBI was investigating links and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government.
Even more troubling, he did so at the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessionsâ€”who due to his own proximity to the Trump campaign and his previously-undisclosed contact with Russian officials, had recused himself from any involvement concerning investigations on the matter.
Thatâ€™s not how this works. Thatâ€™s not how any of this works.
James Comey said last week that his actions prior to the election had been painful; that it made him feel â€œmildly nauseousâ€ to think that the FBI had impacted the election. He also said he would do it again. And yes, as a Hillary Clinton supporter, it was tempting to find joy that heâ€™d been dismissed. (Mildly nauseous? You helped Donald Trump become President of the United States. Take a TUMS and sit down.)
But I took no joy in his firing. I took no joy in it for the same reason that I took no joy in the election of Donald Trump, a man who openlyÂ mockedÂ a disabled reporter, whoÂ boastedÂ that he could shoot someone in the middle of Fifth Avenue without losing a vote, who equated theÂ daily livesÂ of African-Americans and Hispanics to living in hell, who called forÂ Muslim bansÂ and registrations, whoÂ praisedÂ murderous, foreign dictators, who openly degraded women as heÂ dismissedÂ their sexual assault, and who named arguably the mostÂ anti-LGBT politicianÂ in modern political history as his running mate.
Because I love my country.
I love its checks and balances, its Democratic process and its promise that every man and woman was created equal. That no one is above the lawâ€”not even the President of the United States.
In 1973, President Richard Nixon fired the man investigating his own conduct, Archibald Cox. The New Yorker, that very year, wrote a chilling review on the matter, one that could easily be written today:
For nearly a decade, a question has been haunting our national life. It is whether the Republic will live or die. The question has been asked in countless forms. May newspapers print whatever they wish to print, and the people read whatever they wish to read? May the people assemble without fear of injury or loss of life? Must senators and others always support the President in his difficult decisions? Are the people to be treated like children or like adults? To what extent does the government have the power to check up on what the people are doing? To what extent do the people have the right to check up on what the government is doing? How do we spend our money? When do we go to war? Who decides?Â
â€œThe President has dismissed the man charged by Congress and the Attorney General with discovering any wrongdoing in the White House,â€ the article continued. â€œThe potential defendant fired the prosecutor and defied the judge. And since the President, by the same stroke that removed him from the lawâ€™s reach, took personal control of the lawâ€¦ every innocent person in the country is endangered.â€
So yes, one can despise James Comeyâ€™s actions during the election while viewing Donald Trumpâ€™s motivations this week with a healthy skepticism, scrutiny and distaste. I would argue further that those who praised Comeyâ€™s impact on the election should view Trumpâ€™s actions this week through the lens of history. One neednâ€™t look further back than 1973.
Richard Nixon wasnâ€™t a crook, and Donald Trump greatly appreciated Comey â€œinforming him, on three separate occasions, that [he is] not under investigation.â€
The Donald Trump presidency, somehow only on its 110th day, is under investigation. Firing James Comey doesnâ€™t change that. But if you werenâ€™t one of the 65,844,610 people who foresaw this being Donald Trumpâ€™s America in 2017, give his actions this week pause and ask yourself:
Should they change you?
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Image viaÂ CNN/YouTube
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Trump Indictment Is a Massive 34 Counts: CNN
When he appears in New York next week, Donald Trump will face a 34-count indictment.
CNN’s John Miller on-air Thursday evening announced, “I am told by my sources that this is 34 counts of falsification of business records, which is probably a lot of charges involving each document, each thing that was submitted, as a separate count.”
JUST IN: CNN’s John Miller says Trump will face 34 counts related to falsifying business recordshttps://t.co/XqxXbMBcSC pic.twitter.com/oY1blHS8K0
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) March 30, 2023
Attorney Tristan Snell, who assisted in the successful prosecution of the Trump University case for the New York Attorney General’s Office, responded via Twitter:
“This is WAY more than expected. If this is correct, it could mean that the indictment covers FAR more than the Stormy Daniels hush money — like Karen McDougal hush money or other hush money/catch-and-kill cases.”
READ MORE: Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Says It Is Coordinating With Trump to ‘Surrender’
“My hunch for a while,” Snell adds, “given [David] Pecker’s involvement and the drawn-out timetable of the indictment, plus the TWENTY interviews of Michael Cohen with the DA, showed that something far larger than Stormy might be in the works.”
“May still be wrong, of course. But 34 counts is a LOT!”
Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Says It Is Coordinating With Trump to ‘Surrender’
Donald Trump’s attorneys were notified Thursday afternoon a Manhattan grand jury had voted to indict him on felony charges related to his alleged hush money payoff of a porn star he reported slept with.
The ex-president’ attorney recently said if indicted Trump would travel to New York to turn himself in.
The Office of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg has just issued a strongly-worded statement saying it is “coordinating” with Trump’s attorneys for his “surrender.”
“This evening we contacted Mr. Trump’s attorney to coordinate his surrender to the Manhattan D.A.’s Office for arraignment on a Supreme Court indictment, which remains under seal. Guidance will be provided when the arraignment date is selected,” the statement reads.
READ MORE: ‘You Can’t Stand on Fifth Avenue and Just Shoot Somebody’: Donald Trump Indicted – Legal Experts Respond
The Daily Beast’s Jose Pagliery posted the statement to Twitter.
Breaking news: Manhattan DA is negotiating for Trump’s “surrender.” pic.twitter.com/9fFx7heiGA
— Jose Pagliery (@Jose_Pagliery) March 30, 2023
NBC News explains the process, noting he is expected to be arraigned next week.
“After the indictment, Trump will be arrested and taken into custody. He will likely have a mug shot and fingerprints taken,” NBC reports. “Trump will then appear in court to be arraigned, where he will hear charges and enter a plea. Two sources familiar with the situation told NBC News that the former president is likely to be arraigned next week. Trump will either be jailed or released while pre-trial hearings take place.”
'INDICTED FOR HIS BEHAVIOR'
‘You Can’t Stand on Fifth Avenue and Just Shoot Somebody’: Donald Trump Indicted – Legal Experts Respond
Just past 5:00 PM ET The New York Times broke the news that Donald Trump, the ex-president, had been indicted by a Manhattan grand jury on felony charges.
It is a historic moment.
Legal experts are weighing in to help guide Americans through an event that has never before happened in this country.
Former Watergate prosecutor Nick Ackerman says the fact that this is the first time in U.S. history a president is facing criminal charges is itself a problem.
“I think it would have not been a novel event,” Ackerman said on MSNBC, “if we had done this 49 years ago with Richard Nixon, and he had not been pardoned, this will not be a big event [that] it is today.”
READ MORE: New Poll Sends Trump Damning Message About 2024 if He’s Criminally Indicted
“Everybody should be held accountable,” Ackerman added, citing former Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s earlier remarks. Cohen testified repeatedly before the Manhattan grand jury that indicted Trump late Thursday afternoon after a three-hour session.
Ackerman lamented that despite over 30 people being indicted during Watergate, “Richard Nixon was pardoned, he wasn’t held accountable.”
“I think this is very important,” Ackerman continued, “establishing a principle, a line in the sand, that even if you’re the President of the United States, and you commit a crime, you can’t stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and just shoot somebody.”
Ackerman was referring to Trump’s infamous comments during the 2016 election, when he bragged he could “stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn’t lose voters.”
Attorney and civil rights activist Maya Wiley, also on MSNBC, said, “It’s important and sobering that we had somebody who had the highest office of this country who has now ben indicted for his behavior, his acts, in order to win that office, but also faces what are more shoes that will drop, I believe.”
“It is a sobering moment for this country, that we are witnessing this happened to somebody who was entrusted with such power who has now had a jury of his peers, because that is what a grand jury also is, say we believe he had to face the music.”
READ MORE: Here’s How Five Republicans in Congress Are Responding to the Mass Shooting of 3 Children and 3 Adults in Nashville (Video)
Former U.S. Attorney Joyce Vance, now a professor of law, called this a “moment where we would do well to seriously assess who we are as Americans and who we are not as Americans, because we re all so familiar with Donald Trump’s tactics.”
Fmr. federal prosecutor @JoyceWhiteVance joins “The Beat” on news of Donald Trump’s indictment – “A moment where we would do well to seriously assess who we are as Americans and who we are not as Americans.” pic.twitter.com/H4odpLre3C
— The Beat with Ari Melber 📺 (@TheBeatWithAri) March 30, 2023
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