Sweet: Trump’s ‘You’re Fired’ to Comey triggers turmoil

SHARE Sweet: Trump’s ‘You’re Fired’ to Comey triggers turmoil

President Donald Trump meets with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (left) next to Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergei Kislyak at the White House on May 10. | Russian Foreign Ministry Photo via AP

WASHINGTON — I’ve long been out of the prediction business when it comes to President Donald Trump, but in the wake of his abrupt firing of FBI Director James Comey, it’s pretty safe to say this — this unprecedented Trump turmoil will continue.

And people are talking more about Watergate. This is only the beginning.

What did Trump expect when he fired the man overseeing an investigation on whether there was collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the outcome of the 2016 election?

The pretense of the firing — that Trump thought Comey botched the Hillary Clinton email probe — didn’t sell because the bigger factor in play at this point has to do with Russia tampering with the 2016 campaign and the matter of whether there is any Trump-related collusion.

Indeed, the voices for an independent inquiry into the Russia connections only got louder on Wednesday, with the solidly united Democrats joined by some Republicans.

Looking ahead, here are a few things to consider:

• The Comey firing immediately drew comparisons to Watergate, when, in 1973, President Richard Nixon fired Special Watergate Prosecutor Archibald Cox, who was demanding the release of tape recordings of Nixon conversations.

First Nixon had to find someone to ax Cox, because then-Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus quit rather than to fire Cox.

Watergate, we all know, turned out badly for Nixon, who resigned rather than face the likely impeachment from the House Judiciary Committee.

So who did Trump meet with in the Oval Office on Wednesday?

How better to fuel comparisons to Watergate than to bring back Henry Kissinger, and that’s what happened.

Pool reporters were surprised to find Trump with Henry Kissinger. The meeting was not on the White House guidance for the day. Now 93, Kissinger was Nixon’s secretary of State and top foreign policy adviser.

• Trump for some time has been trying to spur leak investigations, upset with stories about Russia connections and his associates, such as ousted former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn.

Trump wants the Russia story to go away.

So who did Trump meet with in the Oval Office on Wednesday?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Russian Ambassador to the U.S. Sergey Kislyak. Kislyak is considered enough of a spy that the U.S. wiretaps his conversations. That’s how the Justice Department knew that Flynn had conversations with Kislyak — the ones he lied about having.

While Trump invited the press pool in for pictures with Kissinger, the Lavrov/Kislyak meeting was closed to the press.

Indeed, the Trump White House did not release any photos that may have been taken by the White House photographer. Instead, there were a plethora of pictures released by — of all outlets — TASS, the Russian state-owned news agency.

• Trump will likely face an uphill confirmation battle for whoever he taps to replace Comey, if no independent inquiry is in place by the nominee gets to the Senate.

• Trump miscalculated if he thought Democrats would applaud the Comey firing. Clinton blames Comey’s public announcement about revisiting her email probe days before the election, on Oct. 28, as contributing to her defeat.

Democrats have moved on, and Trump didn’t seem to anticipate that. The Democrats are looking ahead.

Democrats are far more interested in the FBI’s Russia probe. Indeed, there were multiple reports on Wednesday night that Comey was fired after he asked the Justice Department for more resources.

• Impeachment? Not now, not yet, way too early. Anyway, it’s a Republican House and the GOP controls the House Judiciary Committee.


I was at the White House when the Comey story broke, working out of basement workspace.

Trump, it turned out, had phoned 10 senators to give them a heads up on the Comey dismissal. Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., got his call around 5 p.m., and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., talked to Trump about 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.

Once calls go out to Capitol Hill — well, news leaks.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer had planned to send out an emailed statement so everyone in the press corps got it at the same time. But for some reason, the emails were not going through. So at a little after 5 p.m., Spicer decided to get the word out to the reporters who happened to still be at the White House.

Those of us in the basement ran upstairs to find Spicer standing in the doorway to the press office. He was holding a piece of paper in his hand with a few typed paragraphs on it. And he read it, even a few times for the stragglers.

Comey was dismissed.

That’s how the story started. I’m not sure where it ends.

The Latest
“Why are all these events in Grant Park? Why can’t these events be moved elsewhere? Why dump all the misery on us?” asks a frustrated reader who lives in the South Loop.
A former longtime Chicago reporter looks back at narratives that shaped the candidacies of Richard M. Daley, Barack Obama, Rod Blagojevich and Joe Biden.
Politicians often point to mental illness as a source of gun violence. That’s rarely the case. Rage, hate and access to guns are usually the cause.
In addition to losing 120 pounds, the grateful participant found clarity and sanity in working the program’s 12 steps.
Eligible employees are guaranteed up to five days of paid vacation time and five days of paid sick time, with some rollover days. Some business owners, even those who support the new rules, fear they could be hurt by them.