Dismissing FBI Director Comey didn’t make the Russia problem go away—it made things worse
President Donald Trump’s surprise firing of FBI Director James Comey late on Tuesday took Washington and the whole country by storm. The White House cashiering the man in charge of investigating the president’s connections to the Kremlin hardly constitutes a normal turn of events in our nation’s capital, and Trump’s high-stakes gamble brought inevitable comparisons to President Richard Nixon’s infamous Saturday Night Massacre in late October 1973.
Where this all ends now is anyone’s guess, though Trump’s firing his secret police chief unavoidably will bring scrutiny to issues—above all his links to Russia—which the president is desperate to make disappear. Indeed, it was Comey’s refusal to ignore Team Trump’s Russia problem that led to his brusque dismissal by Trump’s bodyguard-turned-factotum. In Los Angeles when he got the news from television, the FBI director was so stunned that at first he thought it was a prank.
However, the White House was deadly earnest about defenestrating Comey, whose refusal to toe the Trump line on the Kremlin proved his undoing. In particular, his unwillingness to say three magic words—“There’re no ties”—and thereby take the heat off the president regarding Russia drove Trump to distraction. Press reports portray a White House in crisis over Kremlingate. Politico captured the administration’s panic with this insider depiction of the president:
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