“This is an investigator investigating the White House who was just fired by the White House. This doesn’t happen in the United States”— except in Richard Nixon’s White House during Watergate, said a visibly exasperated CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.
Former Clinton campaign press secretary Brian Fallon called into CNN to join the chorus of analysts reminding Americans that Comey was in the middle of investigating Trump for collusion with Russia.
“Donald Trump is doing this to get out from under the Russia investigation,” Fallon said. “We need a special counsel inside the Justice Department who does not owe their job to Donald Trump to investigate Donald Trump. … Otherwise the firing of James Comey means we’ll never get to the bottom of” allegations of collusion between Russia and the Trump camp.
CNN White House correspondent Jeff Zeleny reported that Trump’s termination letter was hand-delivered to Comey by Trump’s long-time private security bodyguard who now serves as director of Oval Office operations.
Comey was in Los Angeles for a speaking engagement at an FBI recruiting event, according to the Los Angeles Times. He cancelled his appearance and was spotted driving back to LAX by ABC7 News.
NBC News Justice Department correspondent Pete Williams, who has covered Comey for years, made the point on air that no one wants to be fired — let alone publicly and by the president of the United States. But, Williams added on MSNBC, “This is going to take an especially heavy toll on James Comey, who has always prided himself on being America’s No. 1 Boy Scout, always guided by ethics.”
Meanwhile, on Twitter, Democratic Virginia Sen. Tim Kaine claimed the move was part of a “growing pattern” by the White House to “cover up the truth.”
Kaine, who was Hillary Clinton’s running mate during the 2016 presidential election, also said the firing “shows how frightened the Admin is over Russia investigation.” Clinton’s campaign was upended just days before the election when Comey announced that the FBI had discovered emails that could be related to the Clinton email controversy.
American Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Anthony D. Romero said the firing endangers the fundamental principle that “the president does not operate above the law.”
“Regardless of how one judges the performance of James Comey in either the Hillary Clinton or Russia investigations, President Trump’s dismissal of a sitting FBI director raises serious alarm bells for our system of checks and balances,” he said in a statement.
Democratic Pennsylvania Sen. Bob Casey described Tuesday’s firing as “Nixonian” and called for a special counsel to continue the Trump-Russia investigation, reported CNN’s congressional correspondent Phil Mattingly, who also tweeted reactions from several other senators.
Here’s what others on Twitter — including Edward Snowden — are saying:
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Comey’s abrupt dismissal had all the makings of a Washington bombshell. It was announced in a statement from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer 50 minutes after Spicer’s staff alerted the White House press corps that they had a “lid,” indicating no more news would be made.
The on-the-record statement was curiously followed by a background paper that Spicer’s office passed around to the White House press pool listing links to four online news articles on Democrat lawmakers denouncing Comey’s job performance.
“Chuck Schumer Says He’s Lost Confidence in James Comey,” was the top headline on the White House list, linking to a November 2016 article on The Huffington Post.