Firing FBI Director Christopher Wray would be one more example of how Trump tramples democratic norms, even on his way out the door.
WASHINGTON D.C. (NBC News) – The White House counsel’s office has evidently cautioned President Donald Trump against firing FBI Director Christopher Wray. The lawyers told Trump that canning Wray could make it seem like Trump required officials to pass a loyalty test, according to NBC News sources. It’s not surprising that the president’s lawyers appear concerned. Trump continues to commit the misdeeds for which he was impeached.
Trump was impeached for abusing the powers and privileges of his office for his personal self-enrichment and for subverting national interests in favor of his own personal interests. Specifically, Trump implied that he might withhold American aid to Ukraine — a vulnerable ally — if Ukraine didn’t open an investigation into the son of Trump’s political rival, Joe Biden. Such an investigation would, of course, potentially benefit his own re-election and harm the election prospects of his political opponent. Testimony established that Trump’s implied threat was understood by both U.S. and Ukrainian officials. Testimony at the impeachment hearing establishedthat Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy understood that if he didn’t open the investigation Trump wanted, his country risked losing its American aid.
And Zelenskiy was right to be concerned. Those who fail to do Trump’s bidding often incur his wrath. To take one recent example, Trump demanded that the governor of Georgia, Brian Kemp, and its secretary of state, Brad Raffensperger, both Republicans, invalidate Georgia’s presidential election results. Kemp and Raffensperger refused. Trump then attacked both so viciously that election officials in Georgia found themselves on the receiving end of death threats from irate Trump supporters.
The Republican Governor of Georgia refuses to do signature verification, which would give us an easy win. What’s wrong with this guy? What is he hiding?— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 7, 2020
Wray could be next on the chopping block. In October, it was reported that Trump was considering firing Wray because the FBI didn’t suggest that Biden was under investigation as part of broader inquiries into his son Hunter’s Ukrainian connections. Such a declaration might have provided an eleventh-hour boost to Trump’s presidential campaign, similar to the one the FBI provided in 2016 when it reopened the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email servers days before voters headed to the polls. And yes, this is very similar to what Trump seemed to want from Zelenskiy.
Indeed, this is the kind of thing Trump regularly does. Then-FBI Director James Comey has recounted a private dinner with Trump at the White House in January 2017 that left him feeling distinctly uncomfortable. Trump asked whether Comey would pledge his personal loyalty to him. Comey declined to make that pledge. Instead, he told Trump he would pledge to be honest.
Soon after, Trump asked Comey to drop his investigation into retired Gen. Michael Flynn, Trump’s first national security adviser. Comey didn’t do so. Trump separately asked Comey to publicly announce that he, Trump, wasn’t under investigation. Comey didn’t do so. And Trump wanted the investigation into Russian interference into the election dropped. Comey gave no indication that he would do that either.
And then, Trump fired him.
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