Is Trump's firing of James Comey a turning point in the Russia investigation?

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 |  NCR Today

I have provided a variety of links responding to the firing of FBI Director James Comey by President Donald Trump. These links include examples of liberal, mainstream and conservative media.

Enough With the Charges of Democratic Hypocrisy (The Atlantic)

No one can save Trump from himself (CNN)

'A Sense of Responsibility' (The Weekly Standard)

We Need to Hear from James Comey, ASAP (New Republic)

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Holtzman: We forget Watergate at our peril (CNN)

The Russia Circus Will Drag On Without Comey (Wall Street Journal)

There is agreement on a couple of things. The firing of Comey was not a good idea. Even Holman Jenkins of the Wall Street Journal sees the firing as a mistake. His reason is that Comey was the best chance for wrapping up this investigation quickly and being able to move on. Yet even in his scenario he believes that Trump associates Michael Flynn, Paul Manafort and Carter Page are likely to be found guilty of some offense.

William Kristol of the conservative Weekly Standard calls President Trump "an embarrassment." He hopes Trump will be president for no more than one term, and calls his governance an aberration and his conservatism a detour from "a mostly praiseworthy movement." He does praise some members of the Trump administration and hopes they stay on as long as they can do good, but if they find it necessary to leave they should do so.

It is also nearly impossible to find someone who believes the firing was a result of the memo from Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general. In Rosenstein's memo, he says that Comey's mishandling of the Clinton email investigation provided cause for his removal. Yet on the campaign trail Trump praised Comey for going after Hillary Clinton.

Gloria Borger of CNN calls the Rosenstein letter a result of the decision to fire Comey. The administration was seeking a rationale for their action. She writes that the firing was done "in a childish, impetuous — and dangerous — manner." Borger notes that Trump's real concern was that Comey might treat him the same way he treated Clinton.

The Atlantic ridicules the notion that Democrats are hypocrites and should be celebrating the firing. Criticizing someone doesn't mean you want them fired. The circumstances precipitating a firing matter. In this case, you have the one being investigated firing the investigator. Again, the article opines that it is not difficult to understand where Democrats are coming from, unless you don't want to understand.

The New Republic insists that the public needs to hear from James Comey. Donald Trump's efforts to clear the clouds from the sky "have severely darkened them." Brian Beutler writes that there is no benign reason for firing Comey, and all the plausible explanations should trouble even Trump partisans.

Finally, I think Elizabeth Holtzman's article in CNN is particularly helpful. She was a key member of the House Judiciary Committee during the Watergate investigation many years ago. She is highly qualified to make comparisons with Richard Nixon. She begins by saying that like Nixon, Trump has fired someone who is investigating him. If collusion is found it could be treason or another federal crime. She observes that Trump is clearly obsessed with the Russia investigation.

Holtzman recommends that several actions be taken. A special prosecutor needs to be named. Attorney General Sessions needs to resign since he failed to live up to his recusal of all things Russian. Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein may also need to resign. His memo was either disingenuous or misleading, according to Holtzman. He needs to appoint a special prosecutor, but will he be allowed to do so? Both Houses of Congress need to move forward aggressively with their Russian investigations.

Are we in a constitutional crisis? Can we declare there has been obstruction of justice? Legal minds differ on such questions. Yet there is sufficient reason to believe our system of checks and balances is being undermined. This president has an authoritarian bent and has little regard for the judiciary. He doesn't seem to see Congress as a separate branch of government. His inclination is to attempt to control everything, and he demands that everyone do his bidding.

James Clapper, the former director of national intelligence, clearly states that our government is under assault, both internally and externally. In response to a question, he agreed that internally he is talking about the president of the United States.

When will Republicans in Congress, especially party leaders move dramatically to protect our democratic system of government? We are seeing prominent conservatives outside of government making the case, but Republican leaders in Congress are still sticking with their president. They believe he is instrumental in their effort to pass their legislative agenda. Yet that agenda is not going anywhere while this cloud continues to grow and hang over the WhIte House.

What action will Trump need to take before the Congress steps up to demand accountability?

In closing I just have to say that the latest revelation that President Trump may have shared classified information with Russian officials is beyond disturbing. It puts the national security of the United States at risk.

Is this the moment Congress will finally stand up to this president?

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July 14-27, 2017

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