James Comey, Sally Yates and Preet Bharara. Questions are being raised about President Donald Trump’s decision for dismissing the director of the FBI, as well as two other appointees from the previous presidential administration. Each of them was fired by Trump.
CNN reported Wednesday that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer found the firing part of a “deeply troubling pattern from the Trump administration.” New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman told the Wednesday morning CNN panel that Trump thought it would be an easy firing because Democrats are already on record hating Comey. Haberman said that Trump assumed they’d be “hamstrung.” When he called Schumer to inform the New York senator of the firing, Schumer reportedly said that it was a mistake. “Well, we’ll see,” Haberman reported Trump replied.
“They fired Sally Yates. They fired Preet Bharara. And they fired James Comey, the very man leading the investigation. This does not seem to be a coincidence,” Schumer said when the announcement was made. He then called for an independent prosecutor.
“Any person who he appoints to lead the Russian investigation will be concerned that he or she will meet the same fate as Director Comey,” he said.
Here are the facts about those Trump let go.
1. James Comey
Fired Tuesday, the president said he botched the investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. The signed letter sent to the FBI revealed the president didn’t believe Comey could “effectively lead the bureau.” At the time, Comey was overseeing the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia and Democrats have rejected the claim that Trump fired Comey due to the Clinton email investigation.
At a hearing last week, Comey confirmed that the FBI has continued the investigation into the Trump campaign and their contact with Russian officials. The next FBI director will have the option of whether the FBI will direct agents to continue the investigation or not.
2. Sally Yates
Yates was fired after she refused to defend Trump’s ban on those coming in from predominantly Muslim nations.
“The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States,” press secretary Sean Spicer said after the firing.
At the time of her firing, Yates was investigating any possible collusion between Russia and the Trump administration. She met with the White House counsel’s office to let them know former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn was lying about his interactions with the Russian ambassador and that he could be subjected to blackmail from the Russians.
“We believed that General Flynn was compromised with respect to the Russians,” Yates revealed Monday during her testimony in the Senate hearing on Russian hacking.
“Logic would tell you that you don’t want the national security adviser to be in a position where the Russians have leverage over him,” she added.
Attorney general Jeff Sessions ultimately agreed that he would recuse himself from any decisions around the Russia investigation. However, Sessions and his deputy worked to justify the firing of Comey, according to reports.
3. Preet Bharara
Serving as the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Bharara was one of the most diligent watchdogs. He was fired after refusing to resign with the other U.S. attorneys Trump requested leave their post. Bharara met with Trump transition team members in the days following the election and was assured that he would keep his job. He said he felt blindsided by the demand.
“I wanted it to be on record that there was a deliberate decision to change [his] mind and fire me, particularly given what my office’s jurisdiction is,” he said about why he was speaking out. At the time, he was investigating Fox News for allegedly failing to inform the company’s shareholders about repeated allegations of sexual harassment and assault against former Chairman Roger Ailes and others at Fox from female employees.
Trump also claimed that former President Barack Obama wiretapped him at Trump Tower, which would have fallen under Bharara’s jurisdiction.
CNN legal analyst Paul Callan said it was obvious Trump “decided that he wants his own pick rather than the choice of Senate adversary (and minority leader) Chuck Schumer in place as the top federal prosecutor in New York.”
Both parties have said that there is no evidence of Trump’s claim about Obama’s wiretapping and Comey admitted he had “no information” that supports Trump’s claim.
It’s unclear who Trump will fire next that takes up the investigation against him.