Trump Drives David Frum Barking Mad

A lot of really stupid stuff has come out of yesterday’s hearing featuring James Comey. So much of it has been by people who are actually intelligent that it is making me wonder if CDC’s Emerging Infectious Disease officers shouldn’t be mobilized to look for an actual contagion.

I posted earlier on the editor of Politico’s stunning statement that a document created by a government employee using government resources documenting a meeting this another government employee on the subject of his official duties and then discussed with yet more government employees was not, in fact, a government record.

The next edition comes from David Frum


Let’s look at the record. Back when Comey was dropkicked via news chyron, this is the first sentence of his farewell letter to the FBI:

I have long believed that a President can fire an FBI Director for any reason, or for no reason at all.

Why would he believe that? Because it is part of federal law. Via the Congressional Research Office report titled FBI Director: Appointment and Tenure:

The position of FBI Director has a fixed 10-year term, and the officeholder cannot be reappointed, unless Congress acts to allow a second appointment of the incumbent. There are no statutory conditions on the President’s authority to remove the FBI Director.

The report goes on to say that in those cases where Congress has tried to limit the ability of the president to fire officers he appoints, the Supreme Court has treated their power to do so very skeptically.

You can almost hear him go “oooops, that was stupid,” and he follows up:

Someone has always exerted political control over the FBI (I have to admit, I was always under the illusion we didn’t have a national police force). Both the Attorney General and the President are empowered to do that. The last thing you want is the FBI doing its own thing without any constraint. Every time a police force has been allowed to do that, bad things have happened.

The FBI could be disbanded and there would be zero constitutional impact as the FBI doesn’t have a constitutional role. Equating the president firing someone he appointed with a blanket refusal of the Senate to appoint anyone to the cabinet is one of the most bizarre nonsequiturs ever.

The director of the FBI is no different in status than any other executive branch officer nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. He is an at-will employee and, as Comey said, he can be fired “for any reason, or for no reason at all.” There is nothing sinister about asserting what has been federal law about the status of appointed officials since Day One of the Republic. One may question the wisdom of the action but to question its legality is to mark oneself as an idiot.

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