Firing the FBI Director Is Not a 'Constitutional Crisis'

Democrats should take a deep breath.



"We are in a full-fledged constitutional crisis," Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) declared on Twitter last night after hearing that Donald Trump had fired FBI Director James Comey. New York Times columnist David Leonhardt agreed. So did Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), although Blumenthal described the crisis as "looming" rather than "full-fledged."

Since Trump has the legal authority to dismiss the head of the FBI for a good reason, a bad reason, a transparently insincere reason, or no reason at all, talk of a constitutional crisis is more than a little premature. "Under the Constitution," notes South Texas College of Law professor Josh Blackman, "the president has the absolute power to fire principal officers, such as Director Comey, at will. In that sense, Trump's actions were entirely constitutional."

When it comes to replacing Comey, of course, the Senate will have its say. If senators do their job, they will make sure that Trump does not appoint a toady who will quietly kill the FBI's investigation of possible ties between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government. Were Trump to insist that his nominee take over the FBI without Senate approval, that would look more like a constitutional crisis. But so far the process is working as the Constitution prescribes.

If the FBI investigation results in charges against any of Trump's associates, he could use his pardon power to prevent a criminal case from proceeding, which would be unseemly but still constitutional. Trump could respond to any such embarrassment by firing the next FBI director, the attorney general, or both, which would again be within his legal power but politically reckless. If his behavior became appalling enough, Congress would have the power to impeach him. That still would not be a constitutional crisis, since the Framers envisioned and provided for that possibility.

Democrats should take a deep breath. They will need their hot air.

NEXT: White House Didn't Expect Fallout From Comey Firing, Census Director Resigns, Reporter's Statehouse Arrest Sparks Controversy: A.M. Links

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  1. Firing the FBI Director Is Not a ‘Constitutional Crisis’

    Yet. These things take time, even for a “very smart” person like General Cheeto, who once hit 17 holes-in-one in a row.

    1. Each comment from you is lamer than the one before. Empty. Devoid of any intelligence. You are quite literally, retarded.

      1. Weigel is slowly going further and further around the bend as the realization slowly dawns on him that nobody outside the ten to twenty professional fake libertarians that make up his “friends” are ever going to buy his piece of shit book. Not even if it gets discounted down to 99 cents plus shipping and handling.

        1. I’m undecided. Should I call you Slurpy or Big Gulp?

      2. Fascist loofa-faced shitgibbon|5.10.17 @ 9:25AM|#|?|filternamelinkcustom

        Each comment from you is lamer than the one before. Empty. Devoid of any intelligence. You are quite literally, retarded.

        I am starting to think DanO. is actually part of a Glib falseflag operation …

        1. It’s not; we don’t care that much.

  2. “If his behavior become appalling enough, Congress would have the power to impeach him. ”

    Jacob, you just gave a laundry list of actions Trump might take which are all constitutional (legal), so why would he get impeached?

    1. You would think so, but Nixon v. United States suggests otherwise.

      But I’m not a constitutional scholar (I don’t even play one on TV) — can anyone else weigh in on this?

      1. I believe they have to be for “high crimes and misdemeanors” which is a mealy mouthful. But there’s no Supreme Court review; the House can impeach for any reason they want, and the Senate tries it. What it really comes down to is whatever they think the voters want and/or can tolerate in the next election.

        1. Exactly, since the SC will presumably not review it, they can define it any way they want to.

    2. Were Trump to insist that his nominee take over the FBI without Senate approval, that would look more like a constitutional crisis.

      The way I interpreted the article, this was included in the “laundry list of actions Trump might take,” and that particular action would be unconstitutional. Also, the constitution states that “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High crimes and Misdemeanors.” It doesn’t really specify what is meant by “High crimes and Misdemeanors,” so I think it’s up to Congress to decide what exactly that means (although the capitalization of High crimes and Misdemeanors makes me wonder if there was a specific Common Law definition the framers were referring to there, but I’m not a lawyer or con. scholar so I’m not sure).

      Although if Obama could usurp Congress’ war making authority, and their power of the purse (remember he had the HHS pay out O-care subsidies despite Congress not appropriating funds for them) and not get impeached then I highly doubt we’ll see Trump impeached unless the Dems take Congress back next year. Although they’ll be acting because of principals as opposed to principles.

      1. Do the Dems want President Pence? They’d have to time the impeachment to finish just about election time, and voters might not appreciate that theater. But to avoid election day memories, they’d have to do it sooner, which would give Pence more time to develop a Presidential persona to help at election time.

        Tough call, Dems.

        1. They might wait until after 2020 and see if Trump gets re-elected to play the impeachment card. Although that would also give Pence time to become the established incumbent in 2024. Whatever ends up happening you can count on it to be transparently driven by TEAM and the R’s to end up hoisting themselves by their own retard.

  3. Wait, a voice of reason, at reason? Weird.

    1. A sad, emasculated voice from the past whimpers, “Drink.”

      1. “Drink” was DanOhOh’s nickname in community college.

        1. I thought it was ‘swallow’.

    2. They ran out of Hot Takes and needed some more filler.

  4. Nothing to see here, folks. Move along. Move along.

    1. General Cheeto is very smart. This latest fiasco is all part of his Plan. Because he is very smart.

      1. I’m convinced you’re a plant by Frito Lays. You make the same two jokes all day involving Cheetos and slurping (I’ll assume it’s Pepsi).

        1. Doritosgate 2.0! All he needs is a big Mountain Dew Code Red display in the background of every comment.

      2. “Smart” was not DanOhOh’s nickname in community college.

        1. Don’t hate me because I’m resplendent.

          1. “Resplendent” was not DanOhOh’s nickname in college.

  5. We may very well be in a Constitutional crisis, but that’s been true for at least my lifetime and this iteration of the death of the republic has more to do with half the electorate refusing to accept the legitimacy of a duly elected president than with any actions that president has actually taken. If you’re going to claim that somehow Trump isn’t really the president and start talking resistance and impeachment and uncivil disobedience, well, screw you, next time around your choice is going to be treated the same way. Despite your fever dreams of tens of thousands of hooded KKK members marching on Washington chanting “kill the nigger!”, the rioting on Wall Street and the Hamptons, the lawsuits and attempts at impeachment and the general lawlessness amongst the intolerant when Obama was elected, yeah, that never happened, there was no widespread movement to question Obama’s election. You started this shit, not us.

    1. Who is this “us”?

    2. This shit started with GWB and all the “STOLIN ELEKSHUN!” crap. Then there was the small but loud “birther” movement who claimed Obama didn’t meet the criteria to be President. And now you’ve got the “Resistance/ Antifa” clowns. That’s three presidents in a row that a loud and increasingly obnoxious sub-set of the electorate has claimed were illegitimate. Probably does have something to do with the process of a Republic dying. Which reminds me, I really need to continue stock-piling ammo and guns while they’re less expensive. Because the next President is probably going to be another wannabe gun grabber (as opposed to a pussy grabber – sorry couldn’t help myself).

    3. If you’re going to claim that somehow Trump isn’t really the president and start talking resistance and impeachment and uncivil disobedience

      The funny/sad part is that most of the idiot protester types don’t actually believe any of that. They’re just having fun being stupid in public with their pussy hats and papier mache heads. It’s all a grand joke to them – just like it was with their hippie grandparents.

      1. True. Even the most impudent of them–who destroy property, assault folks and the like–are careful where they do it. I’m not really impressed by Glorious Anti-Fascist Resistance types who never take their Great Struggle out of places like Berkley.

  6. Just about the only thing emitted from the two major parties is hot air. They have an unending supply. They violate the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. They do not need to save their hot air.

  7. Democrats are idiots. Water is wet. The sky is blue. Meh.

    1. Worst Valentine’s Day ever.

      1. Republicans are red. Democrats are blue. Trump is a moron. Obama is too.

        1. Most accurate Valentine’s Day ever.

  8. “If his behavior becomes appalling enough, Congress would have the power to impeach him”

    That’s not the legal standard for impeachment. Anyway, there’s already a strong basis to impeach Trump for using his public office to enrich his private businesses. Just imagine if your local mayor conducted his public functions from his business office and then started charging people double the price to enter his business. It’s frankly insane that some of you can sit here pretend like any of this shit is normal, ethical or legal. It’s not legal to use your public office to enrich your private businesses. It’s corruption and federal crime.

    1. The legal standard for impeachment is whatever Congress decides it is.

    2. using his public office to enrich his private businesses

      OK, I’ll bite…. What?

      1. Says so right in the embitterment clause which totally does not apply to the clinton foundation or insurance company subsidies or econazi payouts.

        1. I was expecting something along the lines of “tax cuts for the rich”.

    3. Thought it was the Chicago Way.

      You’ve gotta go full Detroit before anyone takes real action.

  9. I’ve read the Constitution. The Constitution is a friend of mine. There is nothing in the Constitution about the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

    If there is a Constitutional crisis, it’s that the FBI exists.

    1. If there is a Constitutional crisis, it’s that the FBI exists.

      You beat me to it. I was going to say the same thing.

  10. I’m wondering if Trump is just trolling the left because he knew they’d go berserk and start ranting about Russian conspiracy theories again.

    Well played, sir!

    1. We can only wish that Trump was that clever. Not a chance in hell.

  11. I’m willing to contently wait for the next election to throw this fucking bum out of office. He doesn’t have to be impeached, he should be but I understand the hesitation. I hope my enemies reach out to clutch this drowning fool of president.

    1. Forget what I’ve said in the past; now America is at the edge of a cliff. What am I supposed to tell my five year old child?

  12. South Texas. Is that the Texas that didn’t rejoin the Union? Why would any opinion from a South Texas legal beagle have any relevance to a Northern incident?

  13. Democrats haven’t taken a deep breath since Nov 9, 2016.

    Comey being fired means that a new FBI Director can be nominated and recommend Hillary indictment.

    Democrat pants-shitting commenced yesterday.

  14. The constitutional crisis happens when bureaucrats are comfortable in their jobs.

  15. For nearly 200 years it was routine that every agency bureaucrat was fired when the highest office changed hands.

    The constitutional crisis began when these jobs became quasi-entitlements.

    1. This is a bizarre statement as applied to the FBI director — J. Edgar Hoover served as FBI director for 48 years (1924-1972) and it was after his death that Congress enacted a 10-year term limit for the position.

      1. Hoover is the exception that proves the rule. The guy SHOULD have been shitcanned by Eisenhower at the latest.

  16. Huh, I don’t know that we’ve had a real “Constitutional Crisis” since the Whiskey Rebellion.

    All of the destruction of the Constitution has been perfectly “legal” since then.

  17. you losing your job is funemployment.

    a bureaucrat losing theirs is a constitutional crisis.

  18. The left has gone insane with hate over this and I’m loving it but also saddened by my friends who think every breath Trump takes is the end times

  19. “Under the Constitution,” notes South Texas College of Law professor Josh Blackman, “the president has the absolute power to fire principal officers, such as Director Comey, at will. In that sense, Trump’s actions were entirely constitutional.”

    As was mentioned by Gilmore ™ elsewhere, the Crone’s scissor-buddy was having Carlos Danger print out classified SoS documents from his personal laptop and Comey refused to prosecute ‘cos he couldn’t find “intent” where intent was not necessary for the crime.

    That’s enuff to can his ass right there.

    1. But that that’s not the rationale provided by Rosenstein. His argument is the opposite: that it was not Comey’s place to announce a recommendation, only to forward the information to the DoJ. He was fired for the very thing that plenty of people here applauded him for last summer (as there was no chance Lynch would start a prosecution against Clinton).

    2. “The Crone’s scissor-buddy [and] Carlos Danger”: Splendid turn-of-phrase.

  20. Firing the FBI Director Is Not a ‘Constitutional Crisis’

    Haven’t you heard? Everything is now a crisis because Trump.

  21. If his behavior became appalling enough

    That’s just so precious.

  22. ” ties between the Trump presidential campaign and the Russian government”

    There are no ties.

  23. “Democrats should take a deep breath.” And hold it until they pass out.

  24. Respectfully Mr. Sullivan, while the firing of an FBI director is within the President’s power and not per se a Constitutional Crises, if said firing was done with the intent to impede an investigation into presidential or administration misconduct then it is very much a Constitutional Crises. If there is no there, there, as the Minority president insists, why not let the FBI continue the investigation and prove it? The objections to Director Comey date from actions taken before this President was even inaugurated. He asked for mass resignations right after the ceremony, why wasn’t the FBI director included then? Why wait until the day after he told Congress he was asking for additional resources to continue the investigation into the Russian/Trump connection and after former AG Yates informed Congress that she had warned the adminstration of the problem with Gen. Flynn to suddenly find the director’s performance unsatisfactory. This isn’t hot air – it’s more like a smoke screen.

  25. Nixon! Firing the man who is investigating you is a constitutional crises. Trump is begging to be impeached. His insanity is becoming apparent to the layman.
    How can you call the situation anything but a constitutional crises.

  26. Comey’s relevance was terminated when President Obama announced “There will be no charges filed”.
    “The rule of law, the separation of powers, and the strength and hallmarks of American democracy are at stake” Chuck must have missed Comey’s relevance being terminated when President Obama announced on national television, “There will be no charges filed” mid investigation of Crooked Hillary. Since President Obama’s pronunciamento the FBI Director has been an empty suit yearning to be free. Why else would he continue to make irrelevant and occasionally inaccurate public statements before congress? Maybe Chuck doesn’t understand the concept of the president’s cabinet serves “at the pleasure of the president. Comey had to go now. (Chuck in ’18)

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