Is there a parallel between the dismissal of the FBI director by Trump and the Watergate case? The letter was delivered by a bodyguard while Comey gave a talk in Hollywood. Eight questions about the ‘movie’.

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The FBI director learned that he had been fired by television while he was in Los Angeles giving a mini-talk to his agents. At night, James Comey should still go to Hollywood to give a conference to recruits. Not anymore. The film turned out to be, even, its estrangement. But the argument is very intricate.

The resignation letter was hand-delivered by Trump’s bodyguard at the FBI headquarters in Washington. Comey is even Republican and probably the primary responsible for Trump’s election, but even that did not get him out of the President’s most feared line: “You’re fired.” Investigating Trump’s campaign links to Russia will have been fatal to Comey. For 45 years, a US president did not dismiss the strong man from the bureau. And in the last major investigation a US President, Richard Nixon, eventually fell. Is there a new Watergate in Washington? Who, after all, is the man away from Trump? And what really led to your estrangement?

There are many doubts. We put together the main ones.

Who is James Comey? What was he investigating?

James Comey has a career proportional to his height: 2.03 meters. He is Republican and was the number two Justice Department in the time of George W. Bush. It would, however, be with Democrat Barack Obama who became the seventh director of the FBI. He was born in Yonkers (New York) on December 14, 1960 (56 years old), but grew up in Allendale, New Jersey. He graduated in law from the University of Chicago in 1985.

After college, Comey became a district attorney in Manhattan, John M. Walker Jr. A lawyer career followed later at New York law firm Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher. He would eventually move to the Public Prosecutor’s Office: he worked from 1987 to 1993 in the prosecutor’s office for the Southern District of New York and became deputy chief of the Criminal Division. He was noted for having managed the Gambino family suit (Italian mafia in New York). From 1996 to 2001 he was also a law professor at the University of Richmond and a lawyer for several state services. One of them, the Whitewater Committee of the Senate, was already investigating Hillary Clinton and the alleged illegalities of the Clinton couple in a real estate business.

Comey became attorney general for the Southern District of New York in 2002, where he remained until he was appointed deputy attorney general by the Bush administration in December 2003. He stayed until August 2005, Business management. He became vice president of Lockheed Martin aerospace products until, five years later, he assumed the position of managing director of Bridgewater Associates, from which he only left at the end of 2013. He also served on the Board of Directors of HSBC Holdings until July, 2013.

In September of 2013, then at age 52, Comey was appointed by Barack Obama director of the FBI. Obama then gave the Republican praise for opposing the NSA espionage program advocated by the Bush administration in 2004, which questioned the legality. “He was prepared to give up a job he liked not to be part of something he felt was fundamentally wrong,” Obama said, referring to Comey’s threat of resignation. “To meet Jim Comey is also to know his fierce independence and deep integrity (…). He is one of those rare figures in Washington. He does not care about politics, “Obama added on Comey’s inauguration.

Jim was due for ten years, but he got caught up in the eye when he decided to reopen the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails in October 2016, just 11 days before the presidential election. Hillary blamed him for the defeat. Ironically, he was fired on Tuesday by Donald Trump, who will have benefited from his decision to reach the White House.

How did Jim influence the American elections?

It all started when Hillary Clinton was head of Obama administration diplomacy between 2009 and 2013. In March 2015, it was learned that the secretary of state would have used “several personal devices” and created email accounts through a server in her home , Instead of using the “state.gov” termination email that was hosted on the US Government servers, much (much) more securely.

The FBI, run by Comey, eventually concluded the investigation in July 2016, saying Hillary was “rather careless” but that it should not be prosecuted as it did not commit any illegality. The process was then filed. The subject did not die politically, but Hillary remained comfortably ahead of Donald Trump in the polls. On 28 October, everything changed.

Eleven days after the presidential election, FBI Director James Comey reopened the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of his ‘personal e-mail’ to address government issues. At stake was the analysis of new emails.

The FBI has been aware of e-mails that appear relevant to the investigation … The FBI must take appropriate investigative measures to allow investigators to evaluate these emails to determine if they contain secret information as well as to assess its importance For research, “Comey wrote to Congress.

Although the director said that it was not known if the new emails were “significant”, from the day the FBI announced the reopening of the investigation, Hillary began to fall in the polls at the same rate that Trump rose. The Republican candidate took immediate advantage to classify it as “the biggest political scandal since the Watergate.” Trump played with the cloud of suspicion that hovered over Hillary.

On November 8, Donald Trump would be elected US president. Democrats immediately blamed the FBI director. Hillary Clinton herself at a meeting with post-election supporters said there were “many reasons to explain why an election is not a success,” but that “the analysis [of the campaign] is that Comey’s letter raised irrational doubts, Unfounded, unproven, that have caught our moment. ”

As early as May 3 of this year, Hillary returned to the charge: “If the elections had been on October 27, I would be President,” Clinton was quoted as saying. The candidate admitted that she did not “make a perfect campaign”, but was on the “road to victory until the combination of Comey’s letter with Russian Wikileaks.”

James Comey, a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the same day, confessed that he feels “queasy” when he thinks his ad may have influenced the election results, but also said he was not sorry, as it would be “catastrophic” to conceal the decision Reopening of the investigation.

When did the FBI director start to irritate Trump?

Although, most likely, Trump owes his election to James Comey, the US president never died of love affairs by the FBI director nominated by Barack Obama. But the water drop will have even been Comey’s statements when he was heard in the Senate on March 20, and confirmed that the FBI was investigating Russia’s ties to Trump’s presidential campaign.

“We have the practice of not confirming ongoing investigations,” he began by explaining James Comey with some coughing to the mix, “but in extraordinary situations where there is public interest, we make it public,” the FBI director said. “Fugues on confidential information are serious, are serious crimes,” he stressed at the hearing before the senators, confirming the investigation: “The FBI in its counterintelligence effort is investigating the efforts of the Russian Government to interfere in the presidential election of 2016 “. In general terms, Comey said, “Russians are always trying to figure out who the next leaders are and what level of influence” can be exerted on the White House candidates.

At the end of March, Donald Trump classified the investigation into his campaign links to Russia – most notably his National Security Adviser, Michael Flynn, meanwhile estranged from the Kremlin – as a “witch hunt of historical proportions.”

In a new Senate hearing on May 3, James Comey was asked if Donald Trump could be targeted by the FBI investigation. The FBI director then refused to do “unfair speculation.” However, he left a warning that the Trump administration may have considered threatening: “We follow the evidence wherever they take us.” Although he hastily added, “I’m not on anyone’s side.” He did not want to say if Trump would be targeted, but he was even more in the sights of the US president.

How Trump fired Comey?

James Comey learned from the television that he had been fired by Donald Trump. The director of the FBI was in a meeting with FBI agents in Los Angeles when the news began to appear on television. Comey was surprised, the Los Angeles Times told FBI sources, but continued the conversation with his subordinates. There are even reports in the American press that Comey thought it was a match. Shortly thereafter, the news was taking up all the television screens and Comey eventually retired to the next room for a chat with his advisors. Comey was going to give a speech at an FBI recruiting activity in Hollywood, but he quickly flew to Washington.

Trump is known for the cruel and untimely manner in which he distracts workers from his company. “He’s fired!” Is, in fact, the hallmark of the reality show that led: “The Apprentice.” The molds of this dismissal were also not the most institutional. The letter of dismissal, CNN warrants, was not handed over by a government envoy or a Justice Department official, but was held at the FBI headquarters by Trump’s top bodyguard, Keith Schiller.

What is the (official) justification for dismissal?

The official justification is that James Comey’s departure is related to how he handled the investigation to emails sent by Hillary from his personal account when he was Secretary of State. In the letter that Donald Trump sent to Comey, the reason is not specified, but the White House issued another letter that US Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein sent to the President to recall the Clinton case: “I can not defend the [ Of the FBI] in the manner in which she dealt with Hillary Clinton’s e-mail inquiry … as well as her refusal to accept the almost universal judgment that he was wrong [when he decided to send a letter to Congress Which assumed that Hillary could have violated the law]. ”

Before this letter was known, White House spokesman Sean Spicer had already placed the burden on the Justice Department, stating that “the president accepted the recommendation of Attorney General [Jeff Sessions] on the resignation of the director of the FBI. ” The responsibility for the dismissal was thus at least shared with Jeff Sessions.

In his resignation letter, Donald Trump writes to Comey that he was “removed from office with immediate effect” as he came to the conclusion that the FBI director “can not effectively lead” that organization. He also took the opportunity to say that “while appreciating the fact that [the FBI] has reported that it is not being investigated,” he agrees with the Justice Department’s ruling. The US president adds that it is “essential to find a new leadership for the FBI that re-establishes public confidence in its vital law enforcement mission.”

Still on Tuesday, Trump issued a small note to note that “the FBI is one of the nation’s most beloved and respected institutions” and announced a turning point: “The day will mark a fresh start for our crown jewel [FBI ] Of law enforcement “.

What is the real reason for the dismissal?

It’s always a subjective assessment, but most US commentators, as well as the analysis of the mainstream media, point to the fact that the director of the FBI is investigating Trump’s campaign links to Russia. That is also the opinion of the Democratic opposition.

According to CNN, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer has revealed that he has phoned Trump to say that he made a terrible mistake. And he asked, “Was the investigation coming so close to the President’s house?”

Trump does not stop tweeting to denounce that the Democrats have always been critical of Comey, right from the very Chuck Schumer himself.

Trump further assures that James Comey will be replaced by someone who will do a “better job” and will bring back the “FBI spirit and prestige”.

Even Republican Senator Richard Burr – who heads the Senate committee investigating Russian influence in the polls – said he was concerned about the resignation, saying it was a “loss to the FBI and the nation.” He added, “I’m worried about the timing and justification for Comey’s dismissal. I know Director Comey as an impeccable public servant and his resignation further confuses an already difficult committee investigation. ”

Republican John McCain also admitted that “the president has the legal authority to dismiss the FBI director,” but confessed to be “disappointed with the president’s decision to fire James Comey.”

Hillary’s Republican primary opponent Bernie Sanders warns that the decision to dismiss the director of the FBI at this time “raises serious questions about what the Trump Administration is hiding.” For the Democratic senator, the exempt investigation is compromised, since the new director “will not be able to conduct the investigation objectively to Russia”. Bernie Sanders, therefore, calls for an independent investigation.

Is the Comey case “more dangerous” than Watergate?

Since the Watergate affair, which culminated in the dismissal of Richard Nixon, a president did not dismiss a man who was conducting the investigation against him. Comparisons with the “Saturday night massacre” came to light in October 1973, when Nixon ordered the resignation of Archibald Cox, the prosecutor conducting the investigation into the involvement of the Republican President in the assault on the Democratic Party offices.

The New York Times editorial speaks of an “obvious historical parallel to Trump’s action with the so-called Saturday night massacre.” In the same text, the NYT recalls that “there is now no special prosecutor to determine whether public trust has been violated and whether the presidency has effectively been won over to a hostile foreign power. That is why the country has reached an even more dangerous time. ”

The editorial begins precisely to say that “the American people demand a full and impartial investigation into the extent of Russia’s meddling with the 2016 presidential election in favor of Donald Trump.” This is because “by firing the FBI director at the end of the Late Tuesday, President Trump cast serious doubt about the feasibility of any future investigation into what could be one of the greatest political scandals in the country’s history. ”

Who is Comey’s successor?

Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein are already interviewing potential interim FBI directors, CNN reveals. Andrew G. McCabe, who yesterday became the FBI’s interim director, is on the list of respondents, who will be between four and eight people.

The decision can be known already this Wednesday or, in the limit, Thursday. Candidates are not limited to FBI staff, but the position has to be filled by someone with experience in law.

Andrew McCabe was named deputy director of the FBI in January 2016 by James Comey. And also has its controversies. During the 2015 campaign, his wife, Jill McCabe, ran for a Senate seat in the State of Virginia and received donations worth more than $ 675,000 ($ 618,954) from the political organization of Terry McAuliffe and the Democratic Party of Virginia. As a result, Republicans criticized McCabe for not moving away from investigations into Hillary Clinton’s e-mails.

McCabe has also been criticized, such as Comey, for talking to the White House about investigations into Russia’s connections, which would be a violation of the regulations.

 

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