Calling it “a dark day in American political history,” CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin tore into President Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director James Comey in the middle of the bureau’s open investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties with Russia.
“It’s a grotesque abuse of power by the president of the United States,” Toobin said on “The Situation Room” shortly after the news of Comey’s firing broke Tuesday evening. “This is the kind of thing that goes on in non-democracies, that when there is an investigation that reaches near the president of the United States, or the leader of a non-democracy, they fire the people who are in charge of the investigation.”
Earlier this year, Comey testified before Congress that the FBI was investigating interactions between members of the Trump campaign and Moscow. On Monday, former acting Attorney General Sally Yates testified before a Senate subcommittee probing Russia’s interference in the 2016 election that she warned the Trump administration in January that National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was vulnerable to blackmail by Russia. Yates was fired in late January after refusing to comply with the president’s travel ban.
For Toobin, a former federal prosecutor, the timing of Comey’s firing was suspect.
— Colin Jones (@colinjones) May 9, 2017
“This is a political act when [the Trump campaign] is under investigation, when his White House counsel was described yesterday as being told that his national security adviser was subject to blackmail by the Russians, and they fired the attorney general a few days later,” he said. “Now they fired the FBI director. I mean, what kind of country is this?”
Toobin compared Comey’s firing to the so-called Saturday Night Massacre on Oct. 20, 1973, when President Richard Nixon fired Archibald Cox, who was leading the investigation into the Watergate scandal.
That firing, Toobin pointed out, “led indirectly but certainly to the resignation of President Nixon.”
“This is not normal,” Toobin continued. “This is not politics as usual. This is something that is completely outside how American law is supposed to work.”
Andrew McCabe, who had been appointed as the FBI’s deputy director by Comey in January 2016, was named acting director Tuesday. Toobin predicted that the Trump administration will soon install “a stooge who will shut down this investigation.”
“Now Donald Trump will put in maybe Chris Christie,” Toobin said, “someone who will do his bidding.”
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