Trump tells Comey ‘You’re fired’: The presidency is not a reality show

Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey felt all too familiar.

The office of the planet’s most powerful position — the leader of the free world — is not like being the host of Celebrity Apprentice.

Donald Trump, a man who is drawn to the limelight like an eclipse of moths is drawn to a blazing inferno, loved to deliver his signature line of “You’re fired!” with a simpering smirk to the latest unlucky schlub to feel his disdain. And he thinks he can continue to follow the same script in the Oval Office.

There is overwhelming evidence of Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election, including hacking into the servers of the Democratic National Committee, which tilted the election in Donald Trump’s favor. There is an open and active FBI investigation into the question of whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia. Exactly what that collusion was, how high into the campaign it went, and who was involved in that collusion is all part of that investigation. Leading that investigation was FBI Director James Comey.

Trump has now told Comey, “You’re fired.”

No matter what the White House now says — the laughable claim that the reason for Comey’s firing was that he mishandled the probe of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server as Secretary of State — it’s clear to anyone not living under a rock that Trump just fired the guy who is investigating him for his possible ties to Russia. And it’s not the first time Trump has fired someone investigating his ties to Russia and the Trump administration.

Early on, Acting Attorney General Sally Yates warned the Trump White House that National Security Adviser Mike Flynn had been compromised because of his ties to Russia. She was getting too close to the truth about Trump and Russia. She was fired, even if the “official” reason was that she refused to back Trump’s executive order of the Muslim travel ban.

Team Trump asked for the resignations of U.S. attorneys general, which is the normal routine in a new administration. But the U.S. attorney general for the southern district of New York, Preet Bharara, was investigating HHS Secretary Tom Price for possible illegal stock trading. He, too, was told, “You’re fired.”

This is not the way things are supposed to work in a democracy.

Donald Trump has always acted as if the rules of law and of common decency don’t apply to him. He refuses to release his taxes. He flaunts the Constitution’s emoluments clause, profiting from investment deals with foreign governments. He charges American taxpayers when Secret Service agents are forced to use equipment and services (such as $35,000 for golf cart rental) at Trump-owned resorts. He gives unprecedented amounts of power to his daughter and son-in-law, even if their “advisory” positions are unpaid. But Ivanka Trump’s chief of staff is certainly paid.

But in this case, it’s not going to work — it’s just going to delay the investigation. Subpoenas have been issued to associates of Flynn in a grand jury looking into the Trump-Russia situation. Senators investigating the Trump-Russia ties are now seeking “any information related to President Donald Trump, his top officials, and his campaign aides” from the Treasury Department’s criminal investigation division.

CNN legal expert James Toobin called Comey’s firing “a grotesque abuse of power.” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the firing was part of a cover-up. Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona said he had spent several hours trying to find an acceptable rationale for the timing of Comey’s firing, and “I just can’t do it.” Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont said the move was “nothing short of Nixonian.”

And speaking of Nixon: On Oct, 20, 1973, an embattled President Richard Nixon ordered the firing of Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, who was investigating the Nixon White House over the Watergate break-in and subsequent cover-up. Both Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus refused and resigned rather than carry out the order. Nixon’s order and the aftermath became known as the “Saturday Night Massacre” and was the beginning of the end for the Nixon presidency. Almost overnight, already dropping public perception and opinion of Nixon turned from doubts to calls for impeachment. Nixon finally resigned the following August after the House of Representatives was starting impeachment proceedings.

All Trump and his family of grifters seem to care about now is to see how much they can profit off the presidency. So don’t count on a resignation coming from Team Trump anytime soon.

Democrats and even some Republicans (Flake, Sen. John McCain) now say that the only way out of this mess is to finally appoint an independent commission or a special prosecutor to continue the investigation into Trump’s Russia ties. I’ll save them all a lot of time by suggesting the perfect name:

Sally Yates.

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