After President Trump’s bombshell announcement Tuesday afternoon that he had fired FBI director James B. Comey, a decision he connected to the agency’s ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in last year’s presidential campaign, the nation is at a crossroads. Either the Senate can insist on replacing Comey with a credible new leader who will continue its investigation and follow the evidence wherever it leads, or it can tacitly accept the president’s blatant effort to derail the inquiry.
That path is almost too ominous to contemplate. Presidents bending law enforcement to their will is the hallmark of undemocratic regimes.
Since last summer, Comey’s agency has been investigating a matter of grave national concern: whether Russian intelligence agencies colluded with members of the Trump campaign to boost his candidacy last year. Evidence of close contacts has mounted: Not only did Trump’s advisers include men with financial ties to Russia, but figures like former national security adviser Michael Flynn and Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke with the Russian ambassador to the United States during the campaign.
It was none other than Sessions who on Tuesday recommended firing Comey. The deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, also supported axing Comey. Rosenstein based his recommendation on the way Comey treated Hillary Clinton last year.