On May 9th, 2017 President Trump fired FBI director James Comey. This was only the second time an FBI director who is appointed for a ten year term has been fired, the first time it took place early in the Clinton term took place after a six month investigation. Comey had been criticized for his handling of the investigation of the Hilary Clinton E-mail servers during the 2016 campaign. Comey held a controversial press conference where he simultaneously announced that the FBI would not pursue but criticized the action of Secretary Clinton. Two weeks before the end of the campaign Comey sent a letter to Congress stating that new evidence had come to the FBI’s attention and it was reopening the investigation Days before the election Comey announced that there had been nothing new in the evidence. Many observers believed that Comey’s action might have cost Clinton the election.
While the handling of the Clinton Email controversy was used as the excuse for firing Comey, almost no one believed that was the reason. Rather the real reason for the firing was the probe by the FBI of the connections between Russian agents and the Trump campaign. The Trump administration had become ever more frustrated by their inability to influence the investigation and to persuade Comey to prioritize the supposed leaks.
The firing of Comey reminded many of the “Saturday Night Massacre” which took place on October 20th 1973, when President Nixon fired special prosecutor Archibold Cox. In order to do so however he had to fire his Attorney General Elliot Richardson and the Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus. The firing by Nixon of Cox did not stop the Watergate investigation and Trump’s firing of Comey did not stop the investigation into his ties with the Russians. In fact the firing resulted in the appointment of a Special Prosecutor, Comey's old boss at the FBI to continue the investigation. An investigation that was still underway at the beginning of 2019.