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Brennan Center Responds to Trump’s Firing of James Comey

This is an assault on the rule of law. The president has dismissed the chief law enforcement officer probing whether the president’s advisors colluded with a hostile foreign government to influence our elections.

May 10, 2017

The Bren­nan Center for Justice at NYU School of Law released the follow­ing state­ment tonight after Pres­id­ent Trump fired FBI Director James Comey:

“This is an assault on the rule of law. The pres­id­ent has dismissed the chief law enforce­ment officer prob­ing whether the pres­id­ent’s advisors colluded with a hostile foreign govern­ment to influ­ence our elec­tions,” said Michael Wald­man, pres­id­ent of the Bren­nan Center. “It poses an extraordin­ary test of our demo­cracy. Members of Congress must stand up for coun­try and not party. They must denounce this deeply troub­ling act and insist on a truly inde­pend­ent invest­ig­a­tion.” 

The follow­ing Bren­nan Center team members with expert­ise in the FBI, over­sight of intel­li­gence activ­it­ies, national secur­ity, and the pres­id­ency are avail­able to comment:

  • Michael Wald­man, pres­id­ent of the Bren­nan Center, is a recog­nized expert on the pres­id­ency. From his perspect­ive of seven years as a senior White House aide, he can discuss how Trump’s decision departs from tradi­tional rules and norms that have guided past pres­id­ents.
  • Michael German, a Bren­nan Center fellow, is a sixteen-year veteran of federal law enforce­ment who served as a special agent with the FBI, where he focused on domestic terror­ism cases and covert oper­a­tions. He twice infilt­rated extrem­ist groups using consti­tu­tion­ally sound law enforce­ment tech­niques, and left the Bureau after report­ing ongo­ing defi­cien­cies in FBI coun­terter­ror­ism oper­a­tions to Congress.
  • Eliza­beth (Liza) Goitein is the co-director of the Bren­nan Center’s Liberty and National Secur­ity Program. She focuses on a range of issues at the inter­sec­tion of national secur­ity policy and civil liber­ties, includ­ing surveil­lance prac­tices of law enforce­ment agen­cies like the FBI. She’s also an expert on over­sight mech­an­isms in place for intel­li­gence activ­it­ies.
  • Faiza Patel is the co-director of the Bren­nan Center’s Liberty and National Secur­ity Program. She focuses on national secur­ity and coun­terter­ror­ism issues. She has test­i­fied before Congress oppos­ing the drag­net surveil­lance of Muslims, writ­ten reports on surveil­lance tech­niques, and developed legis­la­tion creat­ing an inde­pend­ent Inspector General for the NYPD.
  • Wendy Weiser is the director of the Bren­nan Center’s Demo­cracy Program, which focuses on issues includ­ing voting rights and elec­tions, money in polit­ics, govern­ment dysfunc­tion, and fair courts. She foun­ded the center’s Voting Rights and Elec­tions Project, direct­ing litig­a­tion, research, and advocacy efforts to enhance polit­ical parti­cip­a­tion and prevent voter disen­fran­chise­ment around the coun­try. 
  • Nicole Austin-Hillery is director and coun­sel of the Bren­nan Center’s Wash­ing­ton, D.C., office. She is the organ­iz­a­tion’s chief liaison to Congress and the Admin­is­tra­tion, serving as an advoc­ate for the Bren­nan Center on a host of justice and demo­cracy issues. She provides both stra­tegic and advocacy coun­sel ranging from legis­lat­ive analysis to policy devel­op­ment. 
  • Alicia Bannon is a senior coun­sel in the Bren­nan Center’s Demo­cracy Program. She leads the Center’s fair courts work, which promotes meas­ures to protect judi­cial inde­pend­ence and guard against outsized special interest influ­ence in state and federal judi­cial systems. She has authored several nation­ally-recog­nized reports and articles on judi­cial selec­tion, govern­ment dysfunc­tion, and access to justice.
  • Lawrence Norden is deputy director of the Bren­nan Center’s Demo­cracy Program, where his work focuses on everything from money in polit­ics to voting to govern­ment dysfunc­tion. He is an expert in elec­tion infra­struc­ture and tech­no­logy, and has authored several notable reports on law and demo­cracy. 

To set up an inter­view with any of the experts above, please contact Rebecca Autrey at or 646–292–8316.