Thursday, May 11, 2017

Why was FBI Director James Comey fired?

Conspiracy theorists, partisan Democrats, political junkies and other masochists are cranking out a firestorm of stories, claims and counter-claims about why, how and when President Trump fired FBI director James Comey, should have or shouldn't have. But for the "normal" citizen who wants his or her life back, IMHO the best -- and perhaps only -- document one needs is the memo that deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein wrote to his superior, recommending the dismissal. Unlike most of the chatter that is out there, it is relatively simple, straightforward, and to the point. And this is in fact the proximate case and cause for Comey's firing; a primary source.

• The director was wrong to usurp the Attorney General's authority on July 5, 2016, and announce his conclusion that the case should be closed without prosecution. It is not the function of the Director to make such an announcement...[T]he FBI Director is never empowered to supplant federal prosecutors and assume command of the Justice Department.
• Compounding the error, the Director ignored another longstanding principle: we do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation.
• [T]he goal of a federal criminal investigation is not to announce our thoughts at a press conference. The goal is to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to justify a federal criminal prosecution, then allow a federal prosecutor who exercises authority delegated by the Attorney General to make a prosecutorial decision, and then - if prosecution is warranted - let the judge and jury determine the facts.
• Concerning his letter to the Congress on October 28, 2016, the Director cast his decision as a choice between whether he would "speak" about the FBI's decision to investigate the newly-discovered email messages or "conceal" it. "Conceal" is a loaded term that misstates the issue. When federal agents and prosecutors quietly open a criminal investigation, we are not concealing anything; we are simply following the longstanding policy that we refrain from publicizing non-public information. In that context, silence is not concealment.
• My perspective on these issues is shared by former Attorneys General and Deputy Attorneys General from different eras and both political parties.

The complete public-domain document is available, among other places, at