James Comey Firing Overview
So you’re confused about this whole James Comey thing but also care about America so want to be less confused? Come with me!
James Comey was (until today) the Director of the FBI. A Republican appointed by Barack Obama in 2013. He made a lot of enemies in the Democratic Party when, 11 days before the 2016 election, he re-opened investigation into Hillary’s emails.
Turned out nothing interesting was in those new emails, and also that this probably did result in Hillary losing the election. Kinda uncool. Also turns out, he did not announce that the FBI was looking into links between Trump’s campaign and the Russian Government.
It is clear (though some still argue) that Russia actively worked to influence the outcome of the US Presidential election. They did this by hacking and releasing information on Hillary Clinton, and by creating and promoting incendiary and false news stories online.
The Obama Administration knew about this and got real mad at Russia, basically kicking all of their diplomats out of the country and creating new sanctions.
There are two main concerns that the FBI (and other agencies, including congress) have been looking into.
1. Whether the Trump campaign was in communication with the Russians before or after the election to say that the Obama sanctions wouldn’t last.
(This would be bad. Basically actively working against the existing government of the United States, which is illegal.)
2. Whether the Trump campaign actively worked with the Russians to time the release of negative information on Hillary Clinton.
(This would be even worse. Both could be considered treason.)
A number of people in Trump’s campaign and also his current team had conversations with Russian diplomats and lied about it. This includes Mike Flynn, who definitely violated the law and who was fired for lying to VP Pence about it. It also includes Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who agreed that he would not be involved in the Russia investigations because he lied under oath about it.
The FBI has had an on-going investigation into this stuff the whole time, and James Comey has been leading that investigation.
Quick note, a Grand Jury is a citizen panel that decides whether there’s enough evidence to try a case. These are usually secret, in order to protect the people who might not be even brought to trial, much less found guilty. But sometimes they need to gather information, like documents or testimony. And they do this with court summonses called subpoenas.
Well, yesterday, CNN reported that a Federal Grand Jury investigating Mike Flynn and the Trump Campaigns ties to Russia exists. That Grand Jury has issued subpoenas for more information, indicating to experts a high level of seriousness to the investigation.
It’s pretty clear that Trump campaign knows about this, and as it’s a Federal case, it was likely overseen by the FBI director, James Comey.
Suddenly, just before that story came out, the Trump team decided that Comey’s treatment of Hillary’s emails was bad, and fired him. The recommendation to fire Comey came from AG Sessions, who, again, recused himself from the Russia investigation after lying under oath. To be clear, both Sessions and Trump have previously praised Comey at length for his treatment of that investigation.
The response from Dems and also many Reps has been shock. It is very concerning for a President to fire someone who is investigating him. This seems to have happened very quickly. Comey found out he was fired the same time as everyone else, the letter Trump wrote to him was delivered to DC, but Comey was in Los Angeles at the time. Of course, the Deputy Director of the FBI is now in charge, but Trump has the job of appointing a new director, and has not made any sign that he has a list of candidates.
This seems the sort of thing that most congressional lawmakers, who have a mandate to check the power of the President, should be very worried about. Many are calling for a Special Prosecutor, who would be free to work without congressional approval, to be appointed.
Others want broad, unanimous support for Comey’s replacement, which would ensure someone who is not under Trump’s thumb.
The power to grant these things lies with congress. A congress that is controlled by the President’s party, but not by the President.
And that is where we are. It is pretty convoluted, thank you for taking the time to read.
The controversial points in this are:
1 Whether the Russian government hacked Hillary’s emails (many Republicans say there is no proof while every intelligence agency in the US said that it was orchestrated by the Russian government.
2. Whether Jeff Sessions lied under oath or if he just misspoke or forgot that he had met with Russian officials. In any case, he agreed to remove himself from the congressional investigation.
3. Whether the Trump Campaign investigation was the cause of Comey’s firing. The stated reason is that Comey “lost credibility” and damaged the reputation of the FBI by mis-handling the Clinton email investigation.
That’s as good as I can do, it feels like it’s a good deal more comprehensive and concise than most of what I’ve been reading. If it helped you, please show it around.