CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin on Tuesday said that President Donald Trump’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey is “a grotesque abuse of power.”
“Jeffrey, this is an extraordinary moment in American history,” CNN’s Wolf Blitzer said.
“You bet it is, Wolf. And it’s a grotesque abuse of power by the President of the United States,” Toobin said.
Toobin called it “the kind of thing that goes on in non-democracies.”
“When there is a investigation that reaches near the President of the United States, or the leader of a non-democracy, they fire the people who are in charge of the investigation,” Toobin said. “I have not seen anything like this since October 20, 1973, when President Nixon fired Archibald Cox, the Watergate special prosecutor.”
He said Trump’s decision to terminate Comey abruptly and without warning on Tuesday afternoon is “something that is not within the American political tradition.”
“This is not normal. This is not politics as usual,” he said. “This is something that is completely outside how American law is supposed to work.”
“But the President does have the authority to fire an FBI director,” Blitzer said.
“There is no question that the President has the legal authority to do what he has done,” Toobin said. “But that is not by any means the end of the inquiry. This is a political act when the President is under investigation.”
He cited Trump’s firing of former acting Attorney General Sally Yates in January when she refused to enforce his original executive order barring travelers from seven majority-Muslim countries. Yates testified on Monday that she warned the White House days after Trump’s inauguration that his former national security adviser Michael Flynn “could be blackmailed by the Russians.”
“His White House counsel was described yesterday as being told that his national security adviser was subject to blackmail by the Russians, and they fired the attorney general a few days later,” Toobin said. “Now they’ve fired the FBI director. I mean, what kind of country is this?”