When “candidate” Donald Trump made stops across the country, sometimes you would hear someone in the crowd chant his famous TV Apprentice line “You’re Fired!”
Now President Trump has said it for real, terminating FBI Director James Comey Wednesday in what is turning out to be a controversial move, with even some members of Trump’s own party questioning the timing since Comey was investigating alleged ties to Russian involving some members of Trump’s campaign.
“There’s no question he has the right to fire Comey,” says Savannah political science professor Bruce Mallard. “He (President Trump) has the right to fire a lot of people in the federal government who are not civil service but it probably was one of the worst things he could do for himself because it makes him look like he’s trying to stop an investigation.”
The president said in a letter to Comey that confidence has been lost because of how Comey handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Mallard says it’s no secret that Trump applauded Comey last October when there was a new look a the email scandal. “But even in his letter to Comey, the president mentions the Russian investigation so if the issue was the emails, why? So some are worried that this is a magician’s trick or slight of hand, i.e. I’ll talk about this to distract you from this.”
But Congressman Buddy Carter (republican in the 1st district) sees it differently, supporting the president’s decision. ” I think Comey was probably a competent director but at the same time I think the president is right, we need a fresh start,” said Carter. “Comey seems to have lost the confidence of the American people.”
Georgia Senator David Perdue agreed, sending us this statement:
“President Trump acted decisively and within his authority, and I stand behind him. The FBI is much larger than one person and the bureau has thousands of agents working hard every day to keep our nation safe. I am confident a new permanent director will be nominated and confirmed as soon as possible.”
FBI Directors are not fired often and Comey’s investigation into Trump’s campaign prompted me to ask Mallard if there are any parallels to Watergate. In 1973, then Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox was fired by President Richard Nixon. Cox had been appointed to look into issues surrounding the Watergate break-in.
“I think there’s a parallel there, the special prosecutor came in to try to get to the bottom of what happened with the Watergate break in,” said Mallard.
However, Mallard says we are far less informed on what Comey’s investigation may be showing at this early stage than in 1973 when Cox was fired. He says the Watergate investigation had been going on for months by then. Still, he said there seem to be some similarities at least in terms of allegations that now there is attempt to stop an investigation into alleged Russian ties to Trump’s campaign. “And in Trump’s case he’s also justifying it (Comey’s firing) on some grounds that don’t seem to be so legitimate.”
But Congressman Carter called any so called connections to Watergate going overboard. “Well I think that’s a real stretch, I’ll be quite honest with you I don’t think we’re at the Watergate stage yet and I suspect we won’t get to that point.”
Carter says a new FBI director will be found and that he has “confidence in our committee process and believes the Intelligence Committee in both the House and the Senate can handle an investigation.”
Mallard says despite any similarities, we seem to be far from the 70’s. “I think there’s a big debate about whether we should call this a Constitutional crisis. I don’t think we probably can because the system will go on, we’ll get a new director of the FBI,” Mallard told me. ” A constitutional crisis sort of implies we may not survive this but there’s a House and Senate who have special committees and we’re already hearing today from the head of one of those committees that he will move forward.”