Trump’s actions are an assault on the Constitution
The country is experiencing a crisis that transcends politics. Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was in charge of investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 election and a possible Russian collusion with the Trump campaign, threatens our democracy.
Even worse, there are reports that President Trump asked Comey to shut down the federal investigation into former National Security Advisor Mike Flynn. If true, it’s evidence that Trump tried to directly influence the Justice Department and FBI investigation — and possibly rises to grounds for impeachment.
Appointing former FBI Director Robert Mueller as special counsel to oversee the federal investigation into Russian interference is a good start, but Americans deserve an independent commission, outside of Congress, to objectively examine the nature of Trump’s bizarre relationship with Russia. It must be a body that is fully independent of any political considerations including those that may emanate from the White House.
The American people deserve to have their faith and confidence restored. Republican leadership in Congress must unite with Democrats and place the interests of the nation ahead of partisan politics by creating an independent commission. There is no doubt that a web of connections exists between Trump, his associates and the Russian government.
It is imperative that we get to the bottom of understanding the nature of this relationship, as the Kremlin continues to undermine the American-led liberal world order. The Russian government has violated America’s sovereignty, demonstrating active measures to influence our election through the cyber domain and a robust propaganda apparatus ― sowing division and distrust.
The national security implications of Comey’s removal are very serious and seem to be in alignment with objectives of the Russian government, which are to reduce public confidence in the United States establishment, impede the work of the intelligence community and undermine norms and institutions that America has long championed.
The president’s lack of temperance and integrity demonstrated this week diminishes confidence in his ability to lead in a turbulent world. His actions are an assault on our Constitution, and they challenge the resiliency of our nation’s system of checks and balances, which were brilliantly designed by our Founding Fathers, who fervently warned of the threat of tyranny.
The FBI, charged with protecting the American people against foreign intelligence operations and espionage, is engaged in one of the most imperative active investigations of any presidency. No one should have a greater interest in a credible investigation than the president, who has repeatedly insisted the suspicions about his campaign’s ties are baseless.
Yet, rather than try to douse suspicions, Trump has dismissed the overt espionage attacks from Russia that 17 U.S. intelligence agencies assess were intended to influence our election. By removing the person in charge of that very investigation, the president has shown that he is more than willing to inflame them by impeding efforts to get to the truth.
James Comey deserves all the criticism heaped upon him for his repeated missteps impacting the election, but the president of the United States removing the FBI director for doing his job is reminiscent of tyranny.
The president famously embraced Comey before and after the inauguration, but Trump turned against him after he debunked Trump’s wiretap claims, revealed that the FBI was undergoing a counterintelligence investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and reportedly pushed for more resources to expand the Trump-Russia probe.
Trump’s admission that he considered “this Russia thing” when firing Comey, along with the reported Comey memo, point to the president impeding an on-going counterintelligence investigation.
Americans should be troubled by the broader pattern of this president’s behavior. He has mixed his business interests with his presidential office. He has boasted that conflict-of-interest laws do not apply to him as president. In addition, from the moment he took office, Trump has shown a tyrannical willingness to invent his own version of the truth and to weaponize the federal government to serve his ego and pursue personal vendettas, large and small.
When Secretary Hillary Clinton won the popular vote by nearly three million votes, he created a Voter Fraud Task Force to back up his baseless claim that the margin resulted from non-citizens voting illegally; that task force has done nothing to date. When Sally Yates, then acting attorney general, warned the White House that National Security Advisor Michael Flynn had been compromised by Russia, she was fired. Trump waited 18 days until firing Flynn.
Lastly, after Director Comey publicly acknowledged that there was an active counterintelligence investigation into the possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, he was fired.
President Trump is undermining America’s longstanding values and institutions. We live in a nation of laws and no one, including the president of the United States, is above them. It actually aligns with America’s adversaries, particularly Russia.
Jamie Mannina is a former diplomat at the U.S. Department of State. He is a longtime aide to Hillary Clinton and served as a defense and foreign policy advisor on her 2016 presidential campaign.
The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the views of The Hill.
Originally published at thehill.com on May 17, 2017.