“Dear Director Comey:
I have received the attached letters from the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General of the United States recommending your dismissal as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. I have accepted their recommendation and you are hereby terminated and removed from office, effective immediately.” Thus begins the brief termination letter signed by President Donald Trump and given to former FBI Director, James Comey, on May 9th.
Comey learned of the firing while speaking to agents in the FBI’s field office in Los Angeles, California. He was scheduled to headline a diverse agent recruiting event later that day, but instead returned to Washington, DC as a private citizen. That night, the NBC’s Los Angeles affiliate reported that Comey first thought his dismissal was a joke. Comey was not “personally notified” of his dismissal.
Politicians from both major parties see Trump’s ‘Dear Comey’ letter as either politically reckless or intentionally vindictive or both. The firing comes during an FBI investigation into business and political links between Trump, members of his administration, and the Russian government and occurred one day before a planned meeting with the Russian foreign minister. Trump’s bold act has stoked Democratic fury as many dig in to reinforce the narrative and suspicion about inappropriate Russian relations.
Colorado State Representative and District 7 Congressional candidate, Brittany Pettersen, has founded part of her campaign on an anti-Trump platform, “It’s as troubling as it is clear that President Trump fired FBI Director Comey because he was conducting a serious investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. Comey had recently requested more resources to find any connections between Russian hackers and the Trump campaign or other associates of the President or his family. I’m not sure we’ve ever seen such a brazen abuse of power and it’s essential we have a special prosecutor to investigate the Russian involvement with the Trump campaign and administration.”
Denver businessman and Democratic Gubernatorial hopeful, Noel Ginsburg opined, “The President’s decision to fire FBI Director Comey within days of his request to increase funding for the “Russia investigation” once again calls into question the integrity of this President and his administration. I call on all our leaders in Congress to insist on a special prosecutor to ensure the transparency and integrity of the investigation. It’s important for Colorado. It’s important for our country”
Trump acknowledged the Russian investigation in the Comey letter in an apparent attempt to discredit those questioning his timing, “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation…” Despite the firing letter referencing recommendations from the Attorney General and the Deputy Attorney General, Trump told NBC News that he had already made the decision to fire Comey, long before their recommendations. “This Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story. It’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election they should have won.” A statement from the White House Press Secretary also references the recommendation letters from the Attorney General’s office.
Even some Republicans are calling for an independent investigation to put an end to speculation, “There’s so much distrust and politicizing that it would be better for everybody that it had a special counsel,” Colorado Congressman, Mike Coffman told the Denver Post. He joins others in calling for an independent investigation into Russian ties to the Trump Administration. National Republican leaders in favor of an outside investigator include Arizona Senator, John McCain and members of Congress, Barbara Comstock from Virginia and Carlos Curbelo from Florida.
Former Colorado Senator and InsurgentTribe.com blogger, Shawn Mitchell, isn’t buying collusion with Russia. He told La Voz, “James Comey, James Clapper, and John Brennan have all admitted they know of no evidence of collusion between Trump’s campaign and Russian officials or operatives. This after several months of investigation and surveillance of people associated with the Trump campaign. In other words: ‘There were rumors and we watched ‘em like a hawk with all the powers of the modern security state and we can’t put our finger on a blooming tidbit to leak.’”
It is rare for an FBI Director to attract protracted national attention, but Comey put himself in the crosshairs of Democrats when he announced the re-opening of an investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails eleven days before the November 2016 election. Often cited as a major reason for Clinton’s electoral loss, Comey has been in the spotlight ever since.
No FBI head could ever attract as much attention as the country’s first Director, J. Edgar Hoover, during his 48-year tenure. Hoover was frequently accused of intimidation, using illegal methods to collect evidence, and the practice of subverting political dissent including communism. During his final years, Congress established the position of FBI Director as a presidentially appointed position to be confirmed by the U.S. Senate. By 1976, Congress made the position a one-term, ten-year position.
According to the Congressional Research Service’s 2014 report on the FBI, “There are no statutory conditions on the President’s authority to remove the FBI Director.” That is, the President of the United States has legal authority to hire and fire the Director. Dismissal is rare. In the modern era, only one Director has been released by the President. President Bill Clinton dismissed Director William Sessions for misuse of public resources only after repeated requests for Sessions to step down were rebuffed.
Louis Freeh became Clinton’s second FBI Director in 1993, confirmed by unanimous consent of the Senate. Freeh resigned in 2001 after it was revealed that a former FBI agent was a Russian spy.
President Barack Obama nominated James Comey in 2013. Comey took office on September 4th after being confirmed by the Senate. Comey was the second FBI Director to work under Obama. Robert Mueller’s term was extended in 2011 for 2 years at Obama’s and subsequent Congressional legal approval. Typically, FBI Directors are appointed for a single term of ten years to overlap presidential terms and transcend politics.