Comey’s Dismissal Shows How Little Trump Cares About the Rule of Law

President Trump’s dismissal of FBI Director James Comey has generated an immediate and powerful backlash—and for good reason.

May 11, 2017

Cross-posted from Fortune.com

President Trump’s dismissal of FBI Director James Comey has generated an immediate and powerful backlash—and for good reason. The president just fired the person overseeing an investigation into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia to try to throw the U.S. election. At a minimum, this looks like an effort to interfere with an investigation that could unearth an unprecedented betrayal of the national trust. At worst, it actually is such an effort.

Still, some lawmakers and commentators are suggesting that we should reserve judgment. They say we should await more evidence as to the president’s actual motivation, and that we should see whom he nominates to replace Comey. Here’s why they’re wrong.

We should waste little time on the ludicrous claim that President Trump fired Comey because he spoke publicly about then-candidate Hillary Clinton’s careless use of a private email server when she was secretary of state. Regardless of whether that constitutes a reason to fire Comey, it is manifestly not Trump’s reason. Indeed, both President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions previously heaped praise upon Comey for these very actions. The notion that they suddenly consider this to be a fireable offense would be laughable if it weren’t so insulting to the public’s intelligence.

Nor is it reasonable to demand ironclad “proof” that Trump was motivated by the Russia investigation. Even in a criminal case, jurors are permitted to draw reasonable inferences from known facts and circumstances. Every shred of circumstantial evidence—from the timing of the firing, to the wording of the president’s letter, to a White House spokesperson’s suggestions that we should now “move on” from the Russia inquiry—suggests the president’s purpose was to derail the investigation. Indeed, the invocation of such a blatant pretext for the firing only strengthens the likelihood of an illicit motive. 

The full post is available at Fortune.com.

(Image: Flickr.com/ Brooking Institution, CC by NC-ND-2.0)