President-elect Donald Trump has indicated he might dismiss FBI Director James Comey after taking office in January.
Comey is three years into a 10-year term as director. The director’s term is set to run over presidencies to avoid politicization of the office. The director serves at the president’s pleasure and may be dismissed at any time. However, a norm has evolved dictating that a director should only be fired in connection with corruption or ethics issues.
Calls for his resignation or dismissal mounted in the waning days of the general election, as furious Democrats upbraided his handling of the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server during her service in the Obama administration.
Their criticisms echoed attacks launched by Republicans after the director declined to recommend charges against Clinton to the Department of Justice in July. (RELATED: Harry Reid Claims James Comey Violated The Hatch Act — Law Prof Says He’s Wrong)
In his first interview as president-elect with Lesley Stahl of CBS News, Trump indicated he was not sure if Comey should remain atop his perch at the Bureau.
“I haven’t made up my mind,” Trump said with respect to Comey. “I respect him a lot, I respect the FBI a lot … I would like to talk to him before I answer a question like that.”
“Sounds like you’re not sure,” Stahl said.
“I’m not sure,” Trump replied. “I’d want to see — he may have had very good reasons for doing what he did.”
Some legal scholars argue that Comey has done his best throughout the process, and that the facts and circumstances attending the investigation all but ensured a highly-charged outcome.
“I think that Director Comey was between the horns of a dilemma,” George Washington University Law School professor Jonathan Turley told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “He was going to be accused either of a violation of omission or commission. If he had withheld this information and it proved to be substantial, people would have accused him of favoring the Clinton campaign. If he had released more information he would have been accused of clearly favoring the Trump campaign.”
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