NAPOLITANO: Donald Trump's Seven Days in May

  • 05/17/2017 12:00 AM
  • Judge Andrew P. Napolitano
  • Creators
In a period of seven days this month, President Donald Trump fired James Comey as director of the FBI and was accused of sharing top-secret intelligence data with the Russian foreign minister and the Russian ambassador to the United States, the latter a known Russian spy.

The Comey firing was clumsy and rude. Comey learned of it from FBI agents in Los Angeles who noticed reports of it on television monitors that they could see while he was speaking to them. The White House initially claimed Comey had been fired because of his poor judgment in the Hillary Clinton email investigation, in which he announced that she would not be indicted even though there was ample evidence to indict her and then reopened the case two weeks before Election Day even though there was no evidence to justify doing so.

Then the president said he had fired Comey because he objected to Comey's public personality. Then the president claimed that though Comey had told him he was not the subject of any FBI investigation, Comey had not been investigating Trump administration intelligence community leaks with the same vigor with which he had been investigating allegations of collusion between Trump's campaign and the Russian government.

Then Trump met with the Russian foreign minister and ambassador. Then someone who was at the meeting or privy to it afterward, American or Russian, revealed to The Washington Post that at the meeting, Trump had boasted of intelligence data related to the Islamic State group. Then Trump himself admitted sharing this intelligence with the Russians.

A leak of top-secret material by the president or by an anonymous source is potentially catastrophic, and the charge that the president himself revealed top secrets to a known Russian spy is grave, perhaps the gravest ever leveled at an American president in the modern era. The Americans and the Russians at the meeting with Trump denied that he had compromised intelligence sources or revealed the location of American military, but they did not deny that he had revealed top secrets.

All of these events took place in seven days. Here is the back story.

When Comey usurped the authority of the ethically challenged then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch and announced that Hillary Clinton would not be indicted for espionage — the failure to safeguard state secrets that had been given to her for safekeeping — even though there was a mountain of evidence of her guilt, it seemed to me that he was trying to have it both ways. He was trying to keep his job by pleasing both Republicans and Democrats. Instead, he grossly miscalculated and substantially irritated leadership in both parties, including Clinton and Trump.
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