---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: barry levine
Date: Sat, May 13, 2017 at 4:29 PM
Subject: re: Erick Erickson: The Fantasy of Impeachment
To the Editor:
Although the President of the United States, as chief executive, can fire the director of the FBI for usurping the authority of the Attorney General, or for disclosing an ongoing investigation, or for no reason at all, he is not free to obstruct justice. Firing James Comey while the latter is directing an investigation into Russian meddling in our election of 2016 is both criminal and impeachable. The President of the United States has himself told us that ending it was his intention.
Barry Haskell Levine
ATLANTA — After President Trump fired James Comey, the F.B.I. director, the media and political left ignited with talk of impeachment. “We are certainly moving down that path,” said Representative Ruben Gallego, Democrat of Arizona. “The Comey Firing May Be the Beginning of the End of the Trump Administration” shouted a headline in New York magazine.
This is a fantasy.
Don’t get me wrong. I have long had concerns about President Trump. He can contradict himself within separate clauses of a single sentence, then lie about the contradiction. He lacks the depth of knowledge a president should have and seems far more concerned with what people on TV say about him than what is happening around him. Even if there is no evidence that the F.B.I. is investigating the president himself, it is reportedly looking at ties between advisers to his campaign and Russia.
But let’s be realistic. Though the firing looks bad, it was also reasonable.
Consider the case made by Rod Rosenstein, the highly respected deputy attorney general, who was recently confirmed by more than 90 members of the Senate. In a memo to the president, Mr. Rosenstein said Mr. Comey had usurped the attorney general’s authority last July by announcing his conclusion that the F.B.I.’s investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails should be closed without prosecution.
“It is not the function of the director to make such an announcement,” Mr. Rosenstein wrote. “Compounding the error, the director ignored another longstanding principle: We do not hold press conferences to release derogatory information about the subject of a declined criminal investigation.”Mr. Rosenstein likewise documented concerns from attorneys general from both parties. “The way the director handled the conclusion of the email investigation was wrong,” he concluded. “As a result, the F.B.I. is unlikely to regain public and congressional trust until it has a director who understands the gravity of the mistakes and pledges never to repeat them.”
Mr. Comey only made things worse for himself by giving wrong information to Congress about emails belonging to Huma Abedin, Mrs. Clinton’s aide. Mr. Comey’s testimony was under oath, and the F.B.I. had to retract its own director’s testimony. No one can deny this was a bad thing.
Though they are criticizing his firing now, Democrats were calling for Mr. Comey’s head after he reopened the Clinton email investigation late in the campaign last year. If he was so bad then, is he really so good now? It also is telling that two of President Trump’s most vocal critics within the Republican Party, Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, both embraced Mr. Comey’s termination.
Last, along with the F.B.I.’s counterintelligence investigation into Russian meddling, there is a Senate investigation. The chairman of the Intelligence Committee, Senator Richard Burr, Republican of North Carolina, and its ranking member, Senator Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, have criticized Mr. Trump’s handling of the Comey termination and are committed to the investigation. A number of other Republican Senators, including John McCain and Ben Sasse, have also raised questions about the firing.
Instead of engaging in conspiracy theories about President Trump’s Russian connections, liberals would be better served demanding that Congress exercise its powers of the purse and investigation to ensure honesty and integrity in the confirmation of a new F.B.I. director and in the operation of the agency.
Frankly, by firing Mr. Comey, President Trump did what President Barack Obama should have done. Most Americans recognize the cynical and hypocritical reactions now being deployed over this. I suspect most Americans do not even care. Hillary Clinton’s supporters have long wanted Mr. Comey out, and President Trump’s supporters will stand by their man.
In continuing to misread the political situation and reality itself, the left is setting itself up for failure and disappointment. The odds are that the president comes out of a Russian investigation unscathed. Even if Democrats take back Congress in 2018, they would probably fall short of the two-thirds vote in the Senate needed to convict him of impeachable offenses.
Impeachment is not on the horizon, and this is not the beginning of the end of the Trump presidency. It is just one day closer to the next presidential election. And until then, and maybe longer, I’m betting Donald Trump will remain our president.