Yesterday President Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. Although the manner in which this was handled was ham-fisted, this is likely to be seen, at least in retrospect, as a wise move.
The warning signs about James Comey were there all along. The Wall Street Journal summarized some of his spectacular misjudgments in a 2013 editorial titled, “The Political Mr. Comey.“ The overzealous pursuit of Frank Quattrone and Steven Hatfill. The appointment of Patrick Fitzgerald who then ran amok in the Valerie Plame and Robert Novak case.
I disagree with the Journal’s take on Comey’s fight with then-White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales over the reauthorization of Bush’s warrantless surveillance program—that goes on the plus side of Comey’s ledger. But there are even more bad judgments that the Journal did not mention. For example, Comey went after Martha Stewart in a case of ruthless ambition.
When the high stakes “enemy combatant” controversy was pending before the Supreme Court, Comey pulled one of his stunts, holding a press conference to “inform” the public of the gravity of the case. Attorney and author Scott Turow rightly called out Comey’s outrageous trial by news conference.
We can do much better than James Comey. If Trump can repeat the careful process by which he selected Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court and secure a fairly swift confirmation vote, this matter will soon be forgotten. If the selection process is mishandled, the political storm clouds will hang over the White House for quite some time.