Will democracy die under Donald Trump?
For only the second time in U.S. history, the president has fired the director of the FBI. The last time was in 1993, when President Bill Clinton ousted William Sessions over ethical issues. The second time was yesterday, when Trump fired James Comey. However, the circumstances this time are quite different, raising concerns that Trump’s action has created a constitutional crisis in an attempt to cover up possible criminal acts by him, or members of his campaign and staff.
Lawmakers from both parties are questioning the timing of Comey’s firing amid fears that the FBI was getting too close to evidence that would implicate Trump and/or members of his campaign team of collusion with Russia to rig the 2016 election to favor Trump.
Rep. Keith Ellison, a Minneapolis Democrat told reporters,
We are witnessing a Constitutional crisis unfold before our very eyes. On March 20, FBI Director James Comey confirmed under oath that the FBI was investigating the Trump campaign for its involvement with Russian officials to influence our election. Today, President Trump fired him.
The next FBI Director appointed by President Trump will not have the independence or confidence of the American people to continue this investigation. In order to preserve the integrity of the investigation and the government, we need a special prosecutor to probe the possible collusion between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian government officials.
According to a letter from the Trump administration sent to Mr. Comey, he was fired because of the way he handled the Hillary Clinton email investigation back in July 2016.
The decision was reportedly based on a recommendation by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in consultation with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had recused himself from matters involving Hillary Clinton and the FBI Trump-Russia probe.
If firing Comey was an attempt by Trump to block the FBI’s investigation of his possible treason and collusion with Russia, the strength of the U.S. Constitution will be tested as never before. Any attempt by an American president to dismantle separation of powers and operate above the rule of law takes the nation on a path to authoritarianism.
In the Washington Post, Eugene Robinson called Comey’s firing a dangerous abuse of power.
Donald Trump’s firing of James Comey has to be the most thuggish, venal act committed by a U.S. president since Richard Nixon’s desperate Saturday Night Massacre. Trump is trying to shut down the investigation with the most potential to cripple — or perhaps even end — his presidency. He is attempting a power play straight from the playbook of some tinhorn dictator, and he believes he will get away with it.
Politico reports that Trump was having ‘temper tantrums’ over the FBI’s Russia investigation.
President Donald Trump weighed firing his FBI director for more than a week. When he finally pulled the trigger Tuesday afternoon, he didn’t call James Comey. He sent his longtime private security guard to deliver the termination letter in a manila folder to FBI headquarters.
He had grown enraged by the Russia investigation, two advisers said, frustrated by his inability to control the mushrooming narrative around Russia. He repeatedly asked aides why the Russia investigation wouldn’t disappear and demanded they speak out for him. He would sometimes scream at television clips about the probe, one adviser said.
Now it’s up to the Republican-controlled Congress to defend democracy. They will either appoint an independent, special prosecutor to take the Trump-Russia investigation to its conclusion, or they will let Trump get away with removing the checks and balances of the constitution that were designed to maintain a functioning democracy and control corruption.
In order to keep American democracy alive, Republicans would have to set aside their obsession with dismantling the social safety net and virtually eliminating taxes for the rich, and put country before party ideology. It’s safe to say that absent a public outcry for the truth about Trump administration corruption and its ties to Russia, Republicans are unlikely to do anything but let the U.S. Constitution die.
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