Ousting former FBI Director James Comey may not have been the best move (from a political standpoint), but it was the best move — from a justice perspective.
In the latest White House press briefing, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused fired FBI Director James Comey of providing false testimony to Congress. When asked by a reporter if it was a wise political decision to fire James Comey, Sarah Huckabee said it was, and explained that Comey was fired for a number of reasons, including: “giving false testimony, leaking privileged information to journalists, he went outside of the chain of command and politicized an investigation into a presidential candidate.”
Former FBI Director James Comey was fired by President Trump on May 9, 2017. There are plenty of reasons to justify the ousting of the FBI Director, who only served four years of his ten-year term.
A series of memos written by President Trump, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein circulated around the White House in the lead-up to Comey’s dismissal. The memos outlined the administration’s reasoning for Comey’s firing, and highlighted ways in which the FBI’s reputation suffered under the former director.
President Trump released a memo informing James Comey that he had been “terminated and removed from office, effective immediately.” In the memo, he also highlighted his reasons for ousting Comey, and referred to memos written by Sessions and Rosenstein for further justification.
President Trump was upset with Comey because the FBI Director refused to admit publicly that Trump was not under investigation for Russian collusion. “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation,” Trump wrote, chastising Comey.
However, the final decision to fire Comey was based on Comey’s botched treatment of the Hillary Clinton email investigation. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein explained that Comey broke long-standing Justice Department rules when he personally decided not to press charges against Clinton. James Comey, he said, “Announced his own conclusions about the nation’s most sensitive criminal investigation, without the authorization of duly appointed Justice Department leaders.”
As noted by Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee, evidence has emerged that reinforces Comey’s firing. Huckabee specifically mentions false testimony, and the leaking information to the press.
Just before the 2016 presidential election, FBI Director Comey was dragged before the House Judiciary Committee to answer questions about the atypical Clinton email investigation. Representative John Ratcliffe (R-TX) asked Comey if he made the decision to not press charges on Clinton before or after he interviewed her.
“After,” Comey replied with confidence. However, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Chuck Grassley (R-IA) recently uncovered evidence that suggests James Comey was circulating a draft of his decision not to press charges before he interviewed 17 key witnesses, including Hillary Clinton herself, Fox News reports.
Finally, immediately after he was fired, James Comey leaked a document that he drafted as FBI Director, wherein he suggested that President Trump was obstructing the investigation into former advisor Gen. Michael Flynn.
However, the document was written by Comey while he was on official business, making it the property of the federal government. James Comey violated the law when he stole government documents upon his firing — he only compounded the error when he leaked the same documents to the press.