Toobin compared the dismissal of the FBI director while investigations into ties between the president’s campaign and Russia are ongoing to Richard Nixon’s firing of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox in 1973.
“It is a grotesque abuse of power by the president of the United States,” Toobin said. “This is the kind of thing that goes on in non-democracies. That when there is an investigation that reaches near the president of the United States or the leader of a non-democracy, they fire the people who are in charge of the investigation.”
Many people applauded Toobin’s direct and pointed criticism of the shocking move, while other networks were bungling the delivery of the news.
Toobin’s own brief tweets say it all.
The president dismissed Comey as he was leading an investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia and that country’s influence on the 2016 presidential election. Comey learned about his own termination after seeing it on TV and initially thought it was a joke, according to several reports.
Rep. John Conyers (D-Mich.), ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, also compared the move to Nixon’s firing of Cox.
“Today’s action by President Trump completely obliterates any semblance of an independent investigation into Russian efforts to influence our election, and places our nation on the verge of a constitutional crisis,” he said. “There is little doubt that the President’s actions harken our nation back to Watergate and the Saturday Night Massacre. This decision makes it clear that we must have an independent, non-partisan commission to investigate both Russian interference in the U.S. election and allegations of collusion between the government of Vladimir Putin and the Trump campaign. Today’s actions reek of a cover up and appear to be part of an ongoing effort by the Trump White House to impede the investigation into Russian ties and interference in our elections.”
The White House sent a letter saying that Comey’s firing came in an effort to restore “public trust and confidence.” In October, just two weeks before the election, the FBI director said the Department of Justice was reviewing additional emails that could be related to its investigation into Hillary Clinton, months after saying he would not recommend charges against her.
Speculation abounds as to why Trump dismissed the director now. The New York Times’ editorial board said it believes Trump fired Comey because his investigation “could bring down a president.” Trump, however, seems to think both sides of the aisle will eventually thank him for the decision.