Is President Trump's firing of FBI Director James Comey a dangerous moment for American democracy, a justified and long-overdue move, or something in the middle? Like much about the Trump administration, it depends on whom you listen to. Opinions are sharply divided on the surprise firing and the reasons for it, though both sides tend to agree that Comey handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation very poorly. A roundup of opinions:
- This is a "perilous moment" for the US, according to the New York Times editorial board, which says that while Comey certainly bungled the Clinton investigation, it's clear that Trump fired him for other reasons. "The president of the United States, who is no more above the law than any other citizen, has now decisively crippled the FBI's ability to carry out an investigation of him and his associates," the board warns.
- Comey had to go because he "made law enforcement decisions that probably influenced the outcome of the presidential election, a terrible precedent for our democracy," writes John Yoo at Fox News, praising Trump for making a "tough call" and urging Democrats to support the move.
- "What Trump is doing here is not simply unpredictable. It is potentially very dangerous," writes Chris Cillizza at CNN. "Removing the person charged with overseeing an investigation into a foreign country attempting to influence US elections by hurting one candidate (Clinton) and helping another (Trump) sends a chilling message up and down the federal bureaucracy—not to mention the populace."
- The Wall Street Journal editorial board says Comey deserved to be fired and the agency deserves a fresh start. "A new FBI director who looks at the Russia evidence with fresh eyes and without the political baggage of the last year will have a better chance of being credible to the American people," they write.
- At the New Republic, Brian Beutler calls this a "moment of truth" for US democracy. If this is not a "calamitously ham-fisted attempt to obstruct the Russia-Trump investigation," he writes, there needs to be a special prosecutor appointed to handle the Russia probe and Trump needs to nominate a nonpartisan replacement for Comey.
- Ruth Marcus at the Washington Post is no Comey fan—she says she would probably have fired him herself, given the chance—but she finds Trump's timing and rationale very fishy. "Trump's priority is, first and always, Trump," she writes. "Which raises the question: Knowing, as he must have, that firing Comey would set off a firestorm, why did he calculate that this move was in his self-interest?"
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