If there’s ever been an example of timing being everything, it’s the recent firing of FBI Director James Comey.
While in the midst of an address to the FBI in Los Angeles last week, Comey saw televisions in the back of the room begin to flash the news that he had been fired. At first, Comey thought it was a prank.
Then he heard about the letter from President Trump.
Aside from the sheer lack of precedent, the real issue here is that the firing happened right as Comey was in the middle of investigating potential ties between the president and Russia—and we’re talking the kind of ties that might have involved actively manipulating the presidential election.
So there’s no question that Comey’s firing comes at an extremely inopportune time.
But there’s more to this story than sensational media would have you believe. Case in point: it’s not as though Comey is completely innocent of past mistakes or even what some might call gross incompetence.
“I cannot defend the director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails,” wrote Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who, along with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has been pushing for Comey’s removal for quite some time.
Comey not only publically discussed the email investigation—breaking with years of tradition and protocol—but also announced that the investigation would reopen. That announcement, on October 28, 2016, very likely squelched any remaining hope for Clinton when it came to gaining the presidency (talk about outside election influences!).
More recently, Comey’s statement regarding that investigation—in which he claimed that Clinton’s aid Human Abedin “forwarded hundreds and thousands of emails, some of which contained classified information” to a personal server, was corrected by the FBI, who told Congress that only a few emails were forwarded and that the vast majority were merely backed up on a personal laptop. Additionally, only two contained classified information.
Certainly there are many completely valid questions about the timing of Comey’s firing, not to mention the underlying question of just how connected the Trump administration is (or isn’t) to Russia. But the idea that Comey’s firing was merely a giant cover-up to protect Trump dangerously oversimplifies a situation that is much more complicated.
*Photo courtesy of Rich Girard at Flickr Creative Commons.