“Dems have been complaining for months and months about Director James Comey. Now, that he has been fired, they pretend to be aggrieved. Phony hypocrites!” This tweet from President Donald J. Trump was in response to outcry over his firing of Federal Bureau of Investigations Director James Comey on May 9, 2017.
There is truth in the president’s assertion. Comey angered Democrats when, on October 28, 2016, he told Congress he was looking into additional emails relating to Hillary Clinton’s private email server. Clinton was the Democratic nominee for president. Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight.com noted Clinton’s lead in the popular vote was an estimated 5.7 percentage points on the day of Comey’s announcement but dropped to 2.9 points within about a week, thereafter. Clinton still won the popular vote but lost the electoral vote, leaving many to blame Comey for swaying the election. So, when Comey was dismissed, even some Democrats felt he had gotten his just deserts.
Nevertheless, others saw the firing as unfair, the act of a despot, desperate to avoid revelations regarding his ties to Russia’s meddling in the U.S. presidential election. Indeed, it was reminiscent of the firing of Archibald Cox by Richard Nixon on October 20, 1973. Cox had been appointed Special Prosecutor to look into what later became known as the Watergate Scandal. Nixon was eventually impeached and resigned the presidency. Current Vice President Mike Pence denied Comey was fired because of his part in the Russia probe. He said Trump took the action to stabilize the FBI and “to put the safety and security of the American people first.”
Democrats have called for the appointment of a Special Council to take up the Russia investigation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell rejected that demand. He said, “Today we’ll no doubt hear calls for a new investigation, which could only serve to impede the current work being done.”