In case you missed...ah, who are we kidding. You didn’t miss this. Yesterday, President Trump fired F.B.I. Director James Comey, or as Kevin Mitchell puts it, “The Emperor sacks his top spy. Unravelling still in the Mad House.” The reaction? Christina Warren captured it well: “HOLY WOW.” Michael Shear and Matt Apuzzo filed the report in The New York Times, F.B.I. Director Comey Is Fired by Trump (36,000+ shares), writing that the “stunning development...raised the specter of political interference by a sitting president into an existing investigation by the nation’s leading law enforcement agency.” Was it a smart move? Well, Warren Kinsella thinks not: “Kinsella's Crisis Rule 7: never fire guy who knows all secrets during a scandal.” David L. Harris is titling it, “Nixon Part 2: The Reckoning.”
He wouldn’t be the only one. Many have been comparing the move to Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre, and Peter Baker writes in The New York Times, In Trump’s Firing of James Comey, Echoes of Watergate (35,000+ shares). But Jeffrey Frank of the New Yorker says Comey’s Firing Is-and Isn’t-Like Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre.
Meanwhile, Zoe Tillman at BuzzFeed reports that A Former Top DOJ Official Cited In The DOJ's Comey Memo Calls Firing A “Sham.” In an email to BuzzFeed, Donald Ayer, who served as the deputy attorney general under President George H.W. Bush, said that deputy AG Rod Rosenstein “should realize that his correct assessment of those mistakes is now being used to justify [Comey's] firing for a very different reason.”
And of course, the firing itself was only part of the story. We also discovered, as @nytpolitics tweeted, “Comey learned he was fired while addressing FBI employees in LA. TVs in the background began flashing the news.” But at first, he thought it was a prank. Says Nicholas Megaw, “This Comey story gets more absurd with every detail.”
In his report for CNN, FBI director James Comey fired (27,000+ shares), Jeff Zeleny writes that senior White House officials have been surprised at the backlash since “Democrats were saying precisely what Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said in a letter explaining the grounds for Comey's dismissal.” As Zeleny notes, “What was not thought through, apparently, was an explanation of why Comey was fired now, at a time when critics would immediately conclude it was because of the Russia probe.” Says Andrew Sorcini, “In any movie, Trump's actions would be those of the worst-written 2-dimensional villains.”
Speaking of letters, Harry Cheadle at VICE asks, So, What's Up with This Weird Letter from Trump Firing Comey? He highlights this particular nugget: “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation…” Cheadle sums it up: “Hey, that’s a weird thing!” And at Axios, Justin Green is reporting that Justin Amash, a Republican congressman from Michigan, is calling for an independent Russia probe, tweeting that “the second paragraph of this letter is bizarre.”
At POLITICO, Josh Dawsey digs in to the story Behind Comey’s firing: An enraged Trump, fuming about Russia (28,000+ shares). “Well that doesn't leave much room for interpretation,” notes Gady Epstein. Dawsey tweets, “Trump weighed firing for at least a week, has grown increasingly angry about probe, occasionally screaming at TV,” and “Several people say Roger Stone urged Trump to ax Comey. Stone wouldn't comment but said he was having a nice cigar.” In the piece, Dawsey writes, “He had grown enraged by the Russia investigation, two advisers said, frustrated by his inability to control the mushrooming narrative around Russia.” Tweets Wilfred Chan, “sorry donald the narrative is now mushrooming af.”
“‘Turn the lights off.’ Last night, Sean Spicer stood outside in the darkness and tried to explain Trump's decision,” tweets Jenna Johnson, linking to her Washington Post piece, As Trump fired Comey, his staff scrambled to explain why. Arwa Gunja made the obvious connection, tweeting “Democracy dies in darkness,” WaPo’s new slogan. As Michael Balter notes, “Reporters grilled Spicer ‘between two tall hedges’ which is not as bad perhaps as between two ferns.” “This is extraordinary from start to finish,” says Mark Gongloff, and Seung Min Kim tweets, “Last night at the White House sounds like it was a doozy.”
Caron Golden refers you to the exclusive from CNN’s Evan Perez, Shimon Prokupecz and Pamela Brown that, hours before Comey was fired, Grand jury subpoenas were issued in FBI's Russia investigation (29,000+ shares). Tweets Prokupecz, “We have spent days working on this. As we were going to air with it we learned Comey had been fired.” “I'm sure this is just a big coincidence,” says Judd Legum.
And in the deluge of Comey coverage, you may actually have missed this: U.S. Census director resigns amid turmoil over funding of 2020 count, reports Tara Bahrampour for the Washington Post. Says Steven Rich, “This has huge implications for the next decade and that might be an understatement.” And at Science magazine, Jeffrey Mervis reports, Departure of U.S. census director threatens 2020 count. Many were retweeting Bruce Bartlett, former aide to Ron Paul, Jack Kemp, Ronald Reagan and George HW Bush, who said, “In other news, director of the Census Bureau was forced out today, giving GOP opportunity to do more gerrymandering.”
“Because it didn't happen in NY or D.C., this is barely considered news...even though it's actually big news,” says David Sirota. He’s referring the report from WSAZ News in Charleston, W. Va., Reporter arrested at W.Va. Capitol during visit from Conway and Price. The reporter, Dan Heyman, was arrested at the West Virginia Capitol “for allegedly causing a disturbance and yelling questions at federal leaders in town,” including Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price. Olivia Beavers reports on the arrest for The Hill in Reporter arrested after repeatedly questioning Health secretary, which notes that Heyman was arrested after questioning Price about the Obamacare repeal. And Samantha Schmidt has the story for the Washington Post, West Virginia journalist arrested after asking HHS Secretary Tom Price a question. Tweets Anne Applebaum, “if it weren't for everything else, this would be today's big story: US reporter arrested for doing his job.”
Need a break from the Comey coverage? Alex Koppelman says, “No exaggeration at all to call this piece an absolute must-read.” Matthew Desmond’s new piece in The New York Times explores How Homeownership Became the Engine of American Inequality (26,000+ shares). “Ever complained about government handouts to the poor? Read this. Bravo Matthew Desmond,” says Pam Kelley. And Lydia DePillis tweets, “Finally, the drubbing the mortgage interest tax deduction deserves.” “.@just_shelter writes a knockout,” says Gretchen Gavett,
Donald Trump’s Firing of James Comey Is an Attack on American Democracy, John Cassidy writes in the New Yorker.
AP Analysis: Trump thrusts US presidency into perilous area, reports Julie Pace for The Associated Press.
In The Wall Street Journal, Gerald Seib looks ahead with After Ouster at FBI, Small Group of GOP Senators Holds Sway Over Next Steps. And at The New York Times, Firing Fuels Calls for Independent Investigator, Even From Republicans, report David Sanger, Matthew Rosenberg and Michael Schmidt.
Also at The Wall Street Journal, Ian Lovett, Byron Tau, Carol Lee and Rebecca Ballhaus report, Before Comey’s Dismissal, a Growing Frustration at White House.
At the Washington Post, Margaret Sullivan writes that Jeffrey Toobin went ballistic about Trump and Comey. It was great TV.
POLITICO’s Josh Meyer and Darren Samuelsohn report of FBI agents in tears as news of Comey's firing spread.