SO MANY QUES­TIONS

Was the de­ci­sion by U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s to fire FBI di­rec­tor James Comey le­gal? Why did he do it and what did he have to say? Here are some an­swers to the story rock­ing Amer­ica.

Edmonton Journal - - COMEY FIRING -

TRUMP TWEET

“The Democrats have said some of the worst things about James Comey, in­clud­ing the fact that he should be fired, but now they play so sad!” Trump tweeted. “Comey lost the con­fi­dence of al­most ev­ery­one in Washington, Repub­li­can and Demo­crat alike. When things calm down, they will be thank­ing me!”

MIS­GIV­INGS

Trump had mis­giv­ings about re­tain­ing Comey as FBI di­rec­tor as early as his elec­tion in Novem­ber, White House spokes­woman Sarah Huck­abee Sanders said. Al­though as re­cently as May 3, White House Press Sec­re­tary Sean Spicer said that Comey re­tained Trump’s con­fi­dence. On Wed­nes­day, how­ever, Sanders said the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s con­cerns peaked last week. Comey said at a con­gres­sional hear­ing that he had no re­grets about his de­ci­sion last July, with­out in­form­ing top Jus­tice De­part­ment of­fi­cials, to hold a news con­fer­ence on the FBI’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Hil­lary Clin­ton’s han­dling of her email as Sec­re­tary of State. He also said he’d do it again. Sanders said Comey had “es­sen­tially taken a stick of dy­na­mite and thrown it into the De­part­ment of Jus­tice by go­ing around the chain of com­mand.” “That is sim­ply not al­lowed,” Sanders said.

RE­SOURCES

Last week, Comey re­quested more re­sources from the Jus­tice De­part­ment for his bu­reau’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into col­lu­sion be­tween the Trump cam­paign and the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment, ac­cord­ing to two of­fi­cials with knowl­edge of the dis­cus­sion. Comey made the re­quest in a meet­ing last week with Rod Rosen­stein, the deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral, and Se­nate In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee mem­bers were briefed on the re­quest Mon­day, the of­fi­cials said. Jus­tice De­part­ment spokes­woman Sarah Is­gur Flores said re­ports that Comey had re­quested more fund­ing for the Rus­sia in­ves­ti­ga­tion were “to­tally false.” Such a re­quest, she said, “did not hap­pen.”

IT’S LE­GAL

Ac­cord­ing to a se­ries of Supreme Court de­ci­sions in­ter­pret­ing “the ex­ec­u­tive power,” pres­i­dents gen­er­ally have the author­ity to re­move any po­lit­i­cal ap­pointee in a “line” agency at will, al­though Congress can pro­tect ap­pointees serv­ing in in­de­pen­dent reg­u­la­tory com­mis­sions. FBI di­rec­tors are part of the Jus­tice De­part­ment hi­er­ar­chy. While they are ap­pointed to a 10-year term, they clearly serve at the plea­sure of the pres­i­dent.

CLOS­ING RANKS

Se­nior Se­nate Repub­li­cans closed ranks be­hind Trump Wed­nes­day. Repub­li­can lead­ers in­sisted the tur­moil shouldn’t harm their leg­isla­tive agenda, in­clud­ing over­hauls of health-care and tax laws. Sen­a­tor John Cornyn and Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell dis­missed Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer’s call for a spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor. “You get whiplash with Sen­a­tor Schumer’s po­si­tion on Comey,” Cornyn said. “One day he thinks he’s a knight on a white horse, the next day he’s the devil in­car­nate, so I don’t be­lieve it’s sin­cere.”

MAS­SACRE II?

Some Democrats com­pared Trump’s move to the “Satur­day Night Mas­sacre” of 1973, in which Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon or­dered the fir­ing of an in­de­pen­dent spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor in­ves­ti­gat­ing the Water­gate scan­dal. “What we have now is re­ally a loom­ing con­sti­tu­tional cri­sis that is deadly se­ri­ous,” Demo­cratic Sen­a­tor Richard Blu­men­thal told CNN.

NOT A FIRST

Only one pre­vi­ous sit­ting FBI di­rec­tor has been fired by a pres­i­dent — Wil­liam Ses­sions, by Bill Clin­ton, in July 1993. Ses­sions, how­ever, was un­der fire for a num­ber of eth­i­cal vi­o­la­tions, in­clud­ing pres­sur­ing the gov­ern­ment to pay for im­prove­ments at his house and for his wife’s travel ex­penses.

SAIT SERKAN GURBUZ / THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

For­mer FBI di­rec­tor James Comey walks out­side his home in McLean, Va., on Wed­nes­day, a day af­ter be­ing fired by U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

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