Comey’s Firing Could Give Rise to Russia’s Military Force
This is bigger than rumors of Trump’s impeachment.
It’s that moment we’ve all seen in cheesy crime thrillers, when a government agent, journalist — or better yet — former-agent-gone-rogue stumbles onto a damning piece of evidence that could change everything.
That’s usually when you drop your phone, grab the popcorn and pay closer attention. Because if you know anything about crime dramas, then you know things are about to escalate.
When news broke out of former FBI Director James B. Comey’s firing on Tuesday, we lost that government agent.
Comey, the man heading an investigation into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties with the Russian government during the 2016 election, had been sacked by the same people who were being investigated.
Comparisons between Trump’s move to fire Comey and Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” in 1973 have been flooding the internet since Tuesday. That was the night Nixon fired Archibald Cox, an independent prosecutor who was brought on to investigate the president’s campaign officials for breaking into the Democratic National Committee’s offices at the Watergate hotel, as well as the subsequent cover up.
A fair comparison, but a frightening one, considering Nixon’s request to fire Cox led to the resignation of the acting Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, which put the American people so on edge, that for the first time, polls showed 44 percent of the nation was in favor of impeaching Nixon.
According to the latest poll by Public Policy Polling (PPP), Trump stands at 46 percent when it comes to the question of impeachment. And when asked if Trump “should resign if evidence emerges that his campaign worked with Russia to help defeat Hillary Clinton,” 53 percent said yes, according to a report by The Hill.
“That is important because PPP also found that 44 percent of Americans already believe that Trump’s campaign did just that,” the report continued.
But President Trump stated on several occasions that his motivation for ousting the director and manufacturing a new, “Tuesday Evening Massacre” of sorts, was inspired by Comey’s mishandling of the FBI’s investigation into 33,000 deleted emails and use of a private server by the former Secretary of State, as well as the subsequent investigation into whether or not Huma Abedin forwarded thousands of classified emails to her estranged husband, Anthony Weiner.
Trump claimed that after receiving several recommendations from Attorney General Jeff Sessions — who has also been under scrutiny for his covert interactions with Russian officials — and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, he was persuaded to let Comey go for botching the investigation into Clinton’s emails.
After the letter was issued and the media doze into frenzy, White House officials confirmed that “Trump was surprised by the intense reaction to Comey’s dismissal,” according to a report by The Los Angeles Times.
Which would make sense if the FBI director wasn’t also investigating the Trump campaign for allegedly colluding with Russian president, Vladimir Putin, to influence a democratic election in America.
But as it turns out, that’s been the main focus for the Bureau since early January. Andrew McCabe, who was second in command at the FBI and now the acting director, confirmed before the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday that the Bureau spent more time investigating Russia’s potential meddling into the 2016 election than anything else. McCabe also said they will continue to investigate it, despite Comey’s termination.
“It is my opinion and belief that the FBI will continue to pursue this investigation vigorously and completely,” McCabe said, as reported by NPR.
What makes President Trump’s claims that this had anything to do with Clinton’s email investigation harder to believe is a breaking report by The New York Times on Wednesday, which revealed Comey had asked the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, for more resources to continue the FBI’s investigation of Trump’s ties with Russia (eerily similar to Cox asking Nixon to hand over his recorded tapes).
The request was followed by a memo to the president by the deputy attorney general, advising him to fire Comey. To suggest that Trump then decided to fire the director based on his work in 2016, several months after he had already began his term in office, instead of the request for additional resources to speed up an investigation into his own administration, seems far-fetched at the least.
Bearing that in mind, the abrupt termination raised some poignant questions, including what does Comey already know and what was he still trying to find out? Who will replace the director, and will his successor be fair and impartial to the investigation?
And more importantly, is this the moment we look back on after Trump is impeached? Or will this be the reason he remains unscathed by the entire Justice Department, particularly the FBI?
We may not know the answers to these questions yet, but we can conclude that Comey’s firing was a watershed moment at the least. The only problem is, we don’t know what it might be a watershed moment of — Trump’s impeachment, or something much bigger.
Since Trump’s announcement to run for president, there have been countless bombshell moments in the press. Headlines that are harder to scroll past than usual and hours of dramatic coverage on network news channels. But there’s often a telling moment people look back on to explain a major shift in history that’s bigger than others, the moment that changed an immediate and distant future. And Comey’s firing might be it.
Think of the assassination of Franz Ferdinand, that ultimately caused the First World War. Or if we’re sticking to scandalous presidencies — Deep Throat’s meeting with investigative reporters Woodward and Bernstein, where it was rumored that the secret informant uttered the famous line, “follow the money,” which was later debunked.
Nixon’s Watergate scandal created a seismic shift in U.S. history and caused a lot of changes in the nation. For instance, it created a new era in legal reform and gave rise to celebrity journalism. But chief among them? A deep-seated distrust of the government. A distrust that has hit historic lows in 2017, where only 20 percent of Americans say they trust the government.
A broader example would be Obama’s first presidential victory in 2008, which some considered a major watershed moment for race relations in America. While it didn’t prove to be the mark of a post-racial America people had hoped for, it will still be the most influential historical event to take place in the first decade of the new millennium.
The other major watershed moment of this new millennium? Donald Trump’s presidency, and everything that came along with it. Now, James Comey’s firing could be the next telling moment to either Trump’s presidency — or his impeachment.
A report by Vox calls it Trump’s “Watergate moment,” arguing that “Nixon’s attempt to bottle up the Watergate investigation by firing Cox bought him some more time, but it ultimately failed.” Once the investigation was handed to the Justice Department “for further investigation and prosecution of suspects and defendants in Watergate and related cases,” Nixon was impeached and later resigned.
Only difference now is that the Justice Department is headed by Jeff Sessions, which presents an egregious conflict of interest. Just last March, The Washington Post revealed that Sessions had met with Russian officials twice, and later lied about it. The possibility of Sessions being involved in the same conflict he would be in charge of investigating, makes any move toward impeachment (or any kind of justice) unlikely.
There’s more to fear than Trump’s impeachment, a brief Pence presidency, or continued unrest in Washington — and that’s the rise of Russia’s military force. If the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s alleged hacking of a democratic election is stymied, the repercussions will undoubtedly favor Putin by ramping up his political and militarized power.
This spells trouble for Syria and thousands of innocent men, women and children who are still being affected by the 6-year-long civil war and humanitarian crisis in the region, which has only grown worse since Russia’s decision to back the Assad regime.
While we can’t predict whether or not Trump will be impeached for firing the head of the FBI, we do know for a fact that the Trump administration still maintains close ties with Russian officials.
We also know that Russian officials are allied with president Bashar al Assad of Syria, who has the blood of thousands of innocent men, women and children on his hands. And given the Trump administration’s lenient stance with Russia’s war crimes, there is a growing fear that Putin will use America’s political unrest as an opportunity to gain power in the Middle East.
The head of the FBI was fired, and reports of replacing him with someone who is impartial to the Trump administration have already been released, which means even if there are pressing issues surrounding #RussiaGate, the hacking of an election, Flynn’s meetings with Russian officials, Sessions’ meetings with Russian officials — even Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s obvious conflicts of interest as former head of Exxon Mobil — there won’t be anyone to prosecute these potential crimes.
Just this week, despite heightened tensions in Washington from Comey’s termination, Trump had a closed-door meeting with Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak.
If the president of the United States has close ties to a dictator abroad, it could mean a rise in power for that dictator. If Trump has reason to support Putin in any way, whether it be for oil or to arm the Russian government as a means to fight ISIS — a military strategy the president has spoken favorably of on his campaign trail — that could tragically give Putin the push he needs to not only make matters in Syria worse, but also gain militarized power in the region. And if there’s anything we don’t need right now, increased power for Putin is top of the list.