Washington, DC. The President has dismissed the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), after a series of public statements, that taken collectively-indicate the director is not the best choice for the position.
The administration’s rationale for the firing of FBI Director James Comey was set out in a memo written by an official many people have probably never heard of: Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
Sessions said in a memo to Trump that a “fresh start is needed at the leadership of the FBI. It is essential that this Department of Justice clearly reaffirm its commitment to longstanding principles that ensure the integrity and fairness of federal investigations and prosecutions.”
The White House says President Trump fired Comey at the recommendation of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Rosenstein.So what was officially Comey’s “firing offense”?
Many observers had said that recent statements by Comey about his inability to manage sensitive political investigations had led to his dismissal. His openly public soul searching about the Clinton loss of campaign 2016 was the final straw, resulting in his termination.
Rosenstein, in his memo, found fault in the way Comey handled the conclusion of the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails. To be precise;
Rosenstein said Comey was wrong to “usurp” then-attorney general Loretta Lynch’s authority on July 5, 2016, and announce that the Clinton case would be closed without prosecution. He said the FBI director is never empowered to “supplant federal prosecutors and assume command of the Justice Department.”
He said the director also ignored another principle: Federal officials do not hold press conferences to release “derogatory information” about the subject of a “declined federal investigation.”
He said his perspective was shared by former attorneys general and deputy attorneys general from different eras and both political parties and cited a number of officials who made statements critical of Comey’s actions.
He also criticized Comey’s comments at a recent congressional hearing about being torn over whether to tell Congress on Oct. 28, 2016, that he was reopening the Clinton e-mail investigation. Rosenstein said Comey was wrong to describe his choice as being to “speak” or “conceal.” Rosenstein said federal prosecutors and agents don’t “conceal,” they just don’t talk publicly about non-public information.
Comey survived longer than most directors at the FBI, where it is normal to replace one as soon as a new President assumes office, generally with a person who shares the Administrations values, enforcement priorities and who has the confidence of the chief executive.