Comey found “disgusting” Trump’s efforts to compromise him
Benjamin Wittes over at Lawfare blog, an invaluable site for analyzing the impact of the law on politics, wrote a fascinating story yesterday about his friend, former FBI Director James Comey.
Specifically, Wittes wrote about Comey’s ongoing “disgust” over Donald Trump’s incessant efforts to make Comey his guy. An effort inimical to the FBI’s status as an independent law enforcement agency.
Wittes notes that in recent decades, the FBI has gone out of its way to keep the director and his staff independent of the White House. Donald Trump, who doesn’t know his history, and doesn’t care, tried to undo all that.
You can, and should, read Wittes’ story for the details. I’m concerned here with why Trump did what he did. Trump is a tragically-insecure narcissist who thinks the rules don’t apply to him. Trump would demand loyalty from all his employees, regardless, but from Comey it was something different. Comey, who brought down Hillary’s presidential run, was heading up the FBI investigation that threatened to bring down Trump’s presidency as well. Trump’s unique blend of hubris and insecurity kicked into overdrive — Trump had to get Comey on his side.
But he couldn’t. Comey wasn’t budging. No loyalty oath. No response to Trump’s repeated requests for Comey to acknowledge that Trump wasn’t being investigated by the FBI. No response to Trump’s request that Comey kill the investigation of Michael Flynn. In spite of all Trump’s efforts, the Russia investigation accelerated, with Comey asking for more resources shortly before he was fired.
Trump had had enough. Not only was Comey unwilling to fellate Trump’s ego, but the FBI Director wasn’t willing to call off the investigative dogs. James Comey became an existential threat to Donald Trump’s presidency — a presidency about which Trump was already woefully insecure. Comey had to be stopped at all costs.
But Trump being Trump, the firing of James Comey was handled in such a harried, clumsy and amateur way that the entire thing blew up in Trump’s face. Trump began to publicly threaten Comey on Twitter, news leaked of Trump’s attempt to get Comey to swear to a “loyalty oath,” and then Comey (or his allies at the FBI) leaked that Comey had contemporaneous notes of a meeting with Trump in which Trump tried to get Comey to kill the investigation of Flynn.
Boom! That last bit of news was enough to push Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to appoint a special counsel to investigate Trump-Russia. Trump’s own actions brought about his worst fears.
It’s a great, not too long, read from Wittes. I recommend it highly.