The termination letter from President Donald Trump to FBI Director James Comey is photographed in Washington, Tuesday, May 9, 2017. Trump abruptly fired Comey, ousting the nation’s top law enforcement official in the midst of an investigation into whether Trump’s campaign had ties to Russia’s election meddling. In the letter to Comey, Trump said the firing was necessary to restore “public trust and confidence” in the FBI. (AP Photo/Jon Elswick)
It’s been a busy day for the Department of Justice. Immediately on the heels of the FBI’s letter clarifying Director James Comey’s testimony came the shocking news that Mr. Comey had been fired. There’s a lot to unpack here.
First, news broke this morning that Comey’s testimony last week was erroneous. As reported by ProPublica, “FBI officials have privately acknowledged that Comey misstated what Abedin did and what the FBI investigators found.” At issue was his testimony that Hillary Clinton aide, Huma Abedin, had “forwarded hundreds and thousands of emails, some of which contain classified information” to her husband, Anthony Weiner. Reports this morning indicated that this was flawed (some called it “FALSE!”) and that the FBI would likely be issuing a letter of clarification.
The FBI issued a letter this afternoon to Sen. Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, clarifying Comey’s testimony. The letter, signed by Gregory A. Brower, Assistant Director for the Office of Congressional Affairs, explained that Comey’s comments included e-mails transferred by backups as well as forwarded manually – approximately 49,000, in total — and that
“Investigators ultimately determined that two e-mail chains containing classified information were manually forward to Mr. Weiner’s account. Ten additional chains containing classified information also were found on the laptop computer as a result of backup activity. All twelve chains previously had been reviewed by investigators.”
The letter also clarified Comey’s testimony regarding the number of counterterrorism investigations involving refugees, which, “appears to have been misinterpreted .”
Then came the bombshell: Comey had been fired. Although, in this case, he was notified via letter from Donald Trump, rather than the traditional face-to-face “You’re fired!” Trump’s letter, formal and somewhat terse, attached letters from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The subject header of Rosenstein’s missive: “Restoring Public Confidence in the FBI.”
Almost immediately erupted claims by some that this was Nixonian and a “grotesque abuse of power”.
Jeffrey Toobin on Coomey Firing: 'Grotesque Abuse of Power' and 'Kind of Thing That Goes on in Non-Democracies’ https://t.co/gHEMxtPvEz pic.twitter.com/ZysrJvrNlT
— Mediaite (@Mediaite) May 9, 2017
One has to wonder how many of those howling about today’s abrupt dismissal were calling for Comey’s head last July? Or October?