(By Jay Ambrose, Centennial Institute Fellow)
From the day he was elected president, Donald Trump has been treated to hysteria that has known few limits – cries and accusations as irrational, hyperbolic, fearful and hatefully vulgar as distorted thinking can manage. Now, however, comes something that puts the rhetorical rampages of the past to shame.
It is the reaction to his firing FBI director James Comey, seen as an attempt by the president to quell an investigation into his possible collusion with Russians to win the 2016 election.
This, said MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews, was “a little whiff of fascism,” apparently an insufficient condemnation in the eyes of the comedian Jimmy Kimmel. He called Trump a dictator, which is not particularly jocular. On Capitol hill, some Democrats are comparing the firing to Nixonian actions during the Watergate scandal, and they do not stop there.
We are in a constitutional crisis, they insist. The word “impeachment” has entered the discourse, a special prosecutor has been called for and what’s interesting to watch has been the suggested glee behind the expressed outrage. The attitude seems to be we’ve got him now.
Should the truth have a role in this barrage? If so, it should be observed that Comey has rather blatantly overstepped the bounds of his job, as Democrats have been the first to say. He earned the right to be fired and Trump did his duty, but that does not come close to saying the Russian probe will stop. Comey was involved only at a distance. The people carrying it out are FBI agents of integrity, and they won’t stop now, nor will any superior tell them to. If anything, the investigation will be several times as intense as it has been.
The call for a special prosecutor is nonsense. There is no case to prosecute. To date, at least as far as is known, no one has produced any evidence that Trump or anyone on his team had anything to do with the apparent hacking by the Russians of Hillary Clinton’s campaign headquarters. The real colluders were news outlets that took the information from Wikileaks and spread it around the nation. The impact on the campaign appears to have been minimal, however, and meanwhile there’s another matter deserving investigation.
That would be the seemingly criminal intelligence leaks occurring while Barack Obama was president. They were clearly calculated to damage Trump.
None of this is to say that Trump has not engaged in his usual fumbles in the way he has handled the matter, even if he did the right thing. He appears to have thought Democrats would applaud his actions, the White House did a lousy job in the way it informed the press and some of the earlier versions of what happened have now been contradicted.
What seems the case is that he was uneasy with Comey for a number of reasons, one possibly being Comey’s wanting more resources for the Russian investigation. That does not make Trump look good, but it should come as no surprise that he really is not happy with what he sees as a witch hunt. Another attention-getter was Comey’s blunder at a recent congressional hearing when he referred to hundreds and thousands of Clinton emails ending up on a server at the home of an aide. It was actually far, far less.
Trump then talked to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a highly respected legal mind who was tagged to advise Trump on getting rid of Comey.
He did. He pointed out in a letter that Comey violated the law as well as protocols when he announced a decision not to prosecute Clinton for her careless dealings with sensitive emails as secretary of state. That was not up to him, but to the attorney general, and he usurped her role. He had a lengthy press conference explaining why he came to his conclusion, and that again was in violation of the rules. Later, in announcing to Congress that he was reopening the case against Clinton, he flubbed again. He was essentially politicizing the FBI. He had disqualified himself from the job he had.
All of this was grounds to dethrone him, and it was done. We can never know for sure what other motives were lurking in the background, but the crucial questions are whether Trump was justified and harm was done to the government. He was justified, and the FBI is better off without this flawed official at its head.
You don’t get near that conclusion in most news outlets. The biased, editorializing theme is that Trump did a terribly wrong thing out of self-interest. With this media support, Democratic politicians in Washington are dragging the public into their camp and here could be the frightening end result: This issue, according to writers for McClatchy’s Washington bureau, might enable them to win on other issues, including defeat of the new health plan now being debated in the Senate and the crushing of tax reform tax I see as badly needed.
So it is paying off, all that hysteria. The left failed in an unjustified vote recount, the efforts of some to get the electoral college to scorn tradition and will likely fail in connecting Trump with Russian skullduggery. But it appears to be winning clout this time out, and that’s a sad day for the nation.