Donald Trump gave an interview to Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo which may have been timed to try to distract from a trio of Russia scandal bombshells that were in the process of dropping. But rather than try to shift the national dialogue toward one of his own political initiatives, Trump used his interview to launch a not particularly veiled threat toward FBI Director James Comey, who is currently investigating the Trump campaign for its role in Russian election rigging.
It was revealed that former Trump campaign adviser Carter Page was under FISA surveillance by the FBI dating all the way back to last summer (link). Then earlier today it was revealed that former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is registering as a pro-Kremlin foreign agent. And now this evening it’s been revealed that Manafort received $13 million in “loans” from Trump business associates the day departed the campaign amid scandal over his Russia ties. So what did Trump want to talk about during his Fox Business interview last night?
“NOT TOO LATE”
Trump told Bartiromo that while he has confidence in James Comey, it’s “not too late” to fire him. That’s not really how these things work; Comey is just a few years into a ten year appointed term. The president firing the FBI Director is so rare, even with proper cause, that it’s been thoroughly contested when it does happen. Trump would have no cause to fire Comey.
It’s a far different scenario than when, for instance, Trump fired Preet Bharara, a U.S. Attorney who had been serving at the president’s privilege. But with Comey’s FBI marching closer to taking down a number of key Trump campaign associates, and nearing an eventual position to try to force them to flip on Trump himself, Trump revealed last night that he’s been at least considering what would be a nuclear option.
AN INDEFENSIBLE POSITION
If Trump were to fire FBI Director James Comey while he’s being investigated by the FBI, as he suggested to Bartiromo last night , it would make for such an indefensible position that even his Republican allies in Congress would have to publicly condemn him for it just to retain their own credibility. The public would interpret it as an acknowledgement of Trump’s guilt on Russia, which would send his already very low approval rating plummeting even further. Such a move might slow down the FBI’s ability to incriminate him. But it would, in effect, be the end of Trump’s presidency. And yet Trump is now desperate enough that he’s openly floating the idea.
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