What a week it has been

The recent firing of the FBI Director James Comey is just the most recent series of events that calls into question the stability of our government,  in particular the executive branch of the government. When the news broke Tuesday about the termination of Director Comey, the administration talking points claimed that Rod Rosenstein, the Deputy Attorney General of the United States, and the person in the Justice Department that Director Comey reported to, had made a recommendation on his own to the President that Director Comey's conduct warranted some level of action.   The legend, according to Sean Spicer, Press Secretary, and most recently, Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Deputy Press Secretary, is that DAG Rosenstein had conducted this review on his own and by virtue of the content of that report, the President acted on the DAG's recommendations and concurrence from Attorney General Jeff Sessions to remove the Director from office.   

We are now finding out, through reporting done by the Washington Post, the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, that the legend is not fact. Indeed, the reporting from these papers through their sources is that the President has been ruminating for weeks on how to slow down or end the investigation into potential collusion between the Trump Campaign and Russian actors, including perhaps the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin.  The reporting also claims that Mr. Trump was enraged by Director Comey's refusal to give him a "loyalty oath" personally affirming that he would be loyal to the President, apparently superseding his oath to defend the Constitution.   

The reporting also indicates that the firing comes a day after Mr. Comey told members of Congress that he was expanding the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election and had gone to DAG Rosenstein with a request for more resources in the form of prosecutors and investigators.   The next day, according to the reporting provided by the papers mentioned above, the Memo was provided to the President, who drafted his cover memo informing Director Comey of his termination.

The timeline on these events suggests that the President is very worried about what the investigation may uncover. The action on the part of the administration does nothing to quell the questions surrounding the Russian connection, and in fact increases the volume and ferocity of those questions.  

This situation puts the administration into a deeper level of problems as they attempt to move forward.  Who will be the next director of the FBI?  the position is Senate confirmable, and it is highly unlikely that any Senator, Democrat or Republican, will vote to confirm a new director without exacting commitments from the candidate that they will remain independent and objective.  The circumstances of Director Comey's firing are also providing fuel for the upcoming mid-term elections in 2018. I seriously doubt, that any GOP representative in the House, particularly in a state that voted for Hillary Clinton will be pleased about having to campaign in that state for reelection if the Congress just "moves on" from this as they have been encouraged to do so by the administration.  This, plus the health care bill that the House passed, puts them into a situation of defending the indefensible.

The situation with the President has become deeply concerning.  Are the systemic checks and balances that were designed into our government strong enough to hold things together? Or, is Trump slowly eroding the ability of the Congress or the Judicial Branch to check his increasingly autocratic behavior.  I think they are, but the system is going through a stress test that we've not seen since the Nixon administration.  

Mr. Trump's approval ratings have fallen to 36%, which in terms of a new President in the first few months of their administration is remarkably poor.   It seems that the people in the country are not buying his story.  His continued volatility relative to his temper, his tweetstorms, his curious decision making all is beginning to exhaust the country.  He doesn't seem to be having a good time in this situation either.  Perhaps he will tire of this and go back to golfing, making deals, and get himself back on TV, which by all reporting to date, he misses quite a bit.  her's hoping he decides that's the better course of action. The current path he is taking could wind up with impeachment hearings and perhaps even criminal indictments.   

It doesn't seem that the investigations will cool off anytime soon.  The House and Senate investigations are now moving forward with more determination.  A Grand Jury was empaneled and subpoenas have been issued regarding the Flynn affair.  It's going to be a very interesting next few months. Time will tell what happens, but for now, there is chaos at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and it doesn't appear that it will quiet down any time soon.

 

Dennis