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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2961

Comey’s Fall and Trump’s Decisiveness

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

There seems to be no better public official in the US than James Comey, the former boss of the FBI, who could explain what it was like to be between a rock and a hard place during a crucial phase of one’s career.

Mr Comey, who was unceremoniously fired by President Trump this week, used to physically stand out in any crowd of VIPs due to his sheer height – 6’8’’ - and metaphorically among the public servants due to the power he wielded, fell into a hole due his handling – or mishandling - of Clinton email saga last year and then started doing something that shouldn’t have been initiated by someone in such predicament - digging more, without an apparent aim.

Before the presidential election in November, Mr Comey implied that that there was no case to answer as far as Hilary Clinton was concerned, after the FBI investigation over a private server maintained by Mrs Clinton, apart from being naïve to do so – much to the dismay of the Republicans.

Then, a few days before the election, Mr Comey declared that he would order a new, thorough investigation over the email issue again, in the light of what he then called, ‘new evidence’. Not only did it cost Mrs Clinton the election, but also made Mr Comey the ‘enemy number one’ in the camp of Democrats, although the conclusion of the second probe became the same as his previous one, just before the election.

Since Mr Comey had been unwittingly upsetting both camps, there were plenty of people who thought he may be doing something right, despite the intense criticism that he faced and his position did not seem to be in any danger during the first few months of the Trump administration.

The alleged role, said to have been played by Russia during the election campaign, however, cast a long shadow both over him and the organization that he led for almost 4 years. In addition, he publicly dismissed President Trump’s allegation that President Obama personally ordered wire-tapping the Trump Tower, where Mr Trump often used as his residence before becoming the president.

In short, Mr Comey, a practising Catholic of Irish origin, tried to prove himself being his own man – independent, not necessarily loyal to the elected president – the trait that cost him his job and led him to an undignified exit from one of the most significant positons of the government.

President Trump, who is no stranger to firing since his days as the host of The Apprentice, the highly-popular TV show, lost no time being out for Mr Comey’s scalp, as soon as the newly-appointed Deputy attorney general declared that the Department of Justice had lost faith in the former.

Even Mr Comey came to know about his sacking on TV, which he thought a prank played on him.

Since the relationship between President Trump and the mainstream media has never been friendly, as usual, the latter hypothesised the things to come in the coming weeks, or months, ranging from dissension among the loyalists of Mr Comey at the FBI to a potential impeachment scenario, echoing what President Nixon experienced.

President Trump, on his part, said that he took the decision on his own accord, while eclipsing the role of the deputy attorney general, which in turn left his team at the White House in an uncomfortable lurch. Then, he launched a thinly-veiled threat to Mr Comey against leaking of the contents of the conversations he had with President Trump.

Since his inauguration, President Trump has been explicitly showing the world that what he does today should not be taken as a guide for tomorrow. The fate of both Michale Flynn, the former national security advisor and Mr Comey, shows his admiration of someone can go to a diametrically opposite corner in a matter of weeks, if his instinct switches modes.

President Trump, who defied pundits and critics, while becoming the president, seems to be fully confident in his own instincts rather than expert advice, when it comes to decision making. That’s why he carries on as if nothing happened while putting his trust in the people that mattered to him the most – those who voted him into the Oval Office.

Judging by their reactions, President Trump still seems to be popular with his electorate. Moreover, sacking a very influential public figure without fearing the potential consequences, may have earned him the admiration among the faithful, as it is not the norm these days.

Finding Mr Comey’s replacement, however, is going to be a monumental struggle for President Trump, as the bipartisan nature that usually gets ugly during the nomination processes, could only get uglier and more toxic in the present political climate.

In these circumstances, the US may find it difficult to sell its version of good governance based on democracy to the folks in what it considers as banana republics. Because, when the bipartisan tentacles encircle everything, from appointing Supreme Court judges to the chief diplomat, the preacher has to stand in front of a mirror before doing something in front of a global audience.

- Asian Tribune -

Comey’s Fall and Trump’s Decisiveness
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