The saying goes, "History repeats itself." In 1973, former president Richard Nixon fired the independent special prosecutor who was investigating the Watergate scandal, Archibald Cox. This also led to the resignations of Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy William Ruckelshaus.
The public outcry following these events was swift and fierce. There were soon multiple bills in Congress calling for impeachment. It is what ultimately led to Nixon resigning from the presidency.
Today, the FBI under Director James Comey was carrying out an investigation into allegations of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible ties between the Trump campaign and Russian government. That is, until a few days ago, when President Trump suddenly fired Comey.
While the president's actions were technically legal, it breaks with long standing norms that presidents should not interfere with the FBI, to ensure that organization is completely independent and above partisan politics. The fact that his campaign was under investigation makes it much more severe.
The immediate fallout has been chaotic, with contradictions throughout and stories changing from day to day. The initial explanation was that Comey was fired based on the recommendation of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, due to Comey's handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation.
A few days later, however, Trump said Comey is “a showboat, he’s a grandstander, the F.B.I. has been in turmoil,” implying that perhaps his firing was the president's idea, due to issues he has apparently had with Comey. Trump even said on NBC that "regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey."
Those issues between the President and Comey allegedly stem from a meeting the two had just a week after Trump's inauguration. Here too there seems to be a contradiction. According to sources close to Comey, he was summoned to the White House by the president for dinner. During this meeting, Trump asked twice if he had Comey's loyalty. To this, Comey allegedly responded that he would always have his honesty.
According to the White House, the story is much different. They claim Comey requested the meeting, where he asked the President to keep his job. Trump also allegedly asked if he was under investigation, to which Comey responded that he was not. Legal experts say this kind of question would be very improper and answering it would be even more so, something sources close to Comey have also echoed.
Trump's presidency has been marred by scandals since day one, but to fire the Director of the FBI, particularly while his own campaign was under investigation, is going too far. This should raise major red flags about the direction this presidency is going.
If we allow this to continue unopposed, the very foundation of our democracy is threatened. Congress needs to appoint a special prosecutor to continue the Russia investigation.
This isn't even about whether or not people like Trump, but the modus operandi of his White House is very questionable. There too much misinformation, not enough transparency, and a blatant disregard for norms of the presidency that have been well established for centuries.
It's time for Congress, at the urging of the people, to step up and enforce the system of checks and balances meant to prevent our country from becoming an authoritarian state.