Politics & Policy

The Corner

The Big Question After the Comey Firing: What Next?

James Comey has been fired. Before too long, the United States will have a new F.B.I. director.

There are a number of ways that one can look at this news. Those who are convinced that Trump is building a dictatorship will assume that Comey was fired because he got too close to the finding the “smoking gun” that allegedly links Trump to Russia. Those for whom Trump can do no wrong will assume that the president is merely “draining the swamp.” Everyone else will fall somewhere in the middle.

And for defensible reasons, for the justification that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein presented was persuasive indeed. Rosenstein charged at length that Comey “was wrong to usurp the Attorney General’s authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution.” As a result, Rosenstein proposed, the “reputation and credibility” of the FBI has suffered “considerable damage.” Why did Trump delay the move until now? It’s possible, Jonathan Turley suggests, that the administration “waited for the Deputy Attorney General to be confirmed to allow a career prosecutor to review the matter and to concur with the decision.”

Whatever the truth of it, it strikes me that the key here is what happens next. If Trump replaces Comey with a well-respected career agent — and if he does so to bipartisan congratulation — the anger that we are seeing now will be proven premature. If, by contrast, he recruits the Republican Senate to his cause and installs a partisan crony who is sure to leave him well alone, there will be significant cause for concern. In and of itself, there is nothing wrong with the president removing the director of the F.B.I.; indeed, in different circumstances President Bill Clinton did just that in 1993. But if he does so in order to prevent his own investigation . . . well, that’s the time to panic. How we should react to this news will be driven by what happens next. If they wish to retain their sanity, the more careful observers among us should keep their powder dry.

Most Popular

U.S.

The Gun-Control Debate Could Break America

Last night, the nation witnessed what looked a lot like an extended version of the famous “two minutes hate” from George Orwell’s novel 1984. During a CNN town hall on gun control, a furious crowd of Americans jeered at two conservatives, Marco Rubio and Dana Loesch, who stood in defense of the Second ... Read More
Film & TV

Why We Can’t Have Wakanda

SPOILERS AHEAD Black Panther is a really good movie that lives up to the hype in just about every way. Surely someone at Marvel Studios had an early doubt, reading the script and thinking: “Wait, we’re going to have hundreds of African warriors in brightly colored tribal garb, using ancient weapons, ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Obstruction Confusions

In his Lawfare critique of one of my several columns about the purported obstruction case against President Trump, Gabriel Schoenfeld loses me — as I suspect he will lose others — when he says of himself, “I do not think I am Trump-deranged.” Gabe graciously expresses fondness for me, and the feeling is ... Read More
Politics & Policy

Students’ Anti-Gun Views

Are children innocents or are they leaders? Are teenagers fully autonomous decision-makers, or are they lumps of mental clay, still being molded by unfolding brain development? The Left seems to have a particularly hard time deciding these days. Take, for example, the high-school students from Parkland, ... Read More