He became even more famous through the catchphrase, “you’re fired,” and the president is living up to it.
FBI Director James Comey was Donald Trump’s most dramatic firing since taking office. However, it’s not the first time that Trump has fired an investigator. That honor goes to Preet Bharara, the crusading U.S. Attorney from New York.
Some are drawing an analogy between Bharara and Comey as both were tough investigators Trump couldn’t quite control. Both were also holdovers from the Obama administration, although Comey has said in the past he identifies as a Republican.
The Comey firing is causing a firestorm because the FBI director had previously said his agency was investigating whether members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election. The New York Times reported that Comey’s firing bore “echoes of Watergate,” even though some Democrats have hotly criticized Comey’s handling of Hillary Clinton’s email investigation. The Times compared the Comey firing to Richard Nixon’s “Saturday Night Massacre” of special prosecutor Archibald Cox.
For his part, Bharara tweeted concern about Comey’s termination, writing, “EVERYONE who cares about independence & rule of law in America should be “troubled by the timing and reasoning” of Comey firing. Period.”
However, Trump supporters argue that the list of firings is simply indicative of the president exercising his prerogative to clean house of people tied to the Obama administration and replace them with people who are loyal to him. Some of those on the list were accused by Trump supporters of trying to undermine the new president.
Here’s a list of the prominent people Trump has fired since becoming president:
Comey and Trump were not necessarily predestined to be foes; after all, Comey has previously said he was a Republican, and he worked in the administration of George W. Bush. And then there’s the matter of Hillary Clinton’s emails; many people, including Hillary herself, believe that Comey’s decision to inform Congress that the FBI was reopening its investigation into newly discovered emails might have contributed to her loss on election day.
The email investigation went nowhere, and, although it’s widely believed to have helped Trump, Comey’s handling of Clinton’s emails was cited as a reason for Comey’s ouster. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein wrote a three-page letter dated May 9 on the Comey firing. In it, Rosenstein says that Comey must be fired because of the way he handled the Hillary Clinton email case.
Critics accuse Trump of pulling off a watchdog, as Comey, in March, confirmed in testimony to Congress that the FBI is investigating Russian interference in the election and whether or not Trump campaign officials were in contact with officials in Moscow. Comey also said the FBI had found “no information” to back up Trump’s claims that President Obama ordered Trump Tower wiretapped before the election.
Some Trump supporters accuse Democrats of hypocrisy; after all, some were extremely critical of how Comey handled the Clinton disclosure. Yet others wonder why, if Trump was so upset about that, he didn’t act sooner.
“I cannot defend the Director’s handling of the conclusion of the investigation of Secretary Clinton’s emails, and I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken,” Rosenstein said.
Trump’s own letter to Comey said in part, “While I greatly appreciate you informing me, on three separate occasions, that I am not under investigation, I nevertheless concur with the judgement of the Department of Justice that you are not able to effectively lead the Bureau. It is essential that we find new leadership for the FBI that restores public trust and confidence in its vital law enforcement mission.”
Attorney General Jeff Sessions also wrote a letter recommending Comey’s firing.
On May 3, Comey had appeared before Congress and defended his decision to brief Congress about Clinton’s emails shortly before the election, but he said it makes him “mildly nauseous” to think that he might have influenced it.
Bharara is a crusading U.S. Attorney from New York. Although he has long-standing ties to Democrats like Chuck Schumer, he forged a reputation in New York as a crusader against public corruption.
As the U.S. Attorney in Manhattan, some believe that Bharara could have been positioned to investigate such things as the Trump Foundation.
Bharara was fired by the Trump administration after refusing to resign.
That news came from Bharara himself, who tweeted it, one day after he launched an extraordinary showdown with the new president and his Attorney General by refusing orders to step down.
Making matters even more confusing, Bharara, who was responsible for handling the Anthony Weiner case that helped derail Hillary Clinton’s campaign, was reportedly investigating the Clinton Foundation with the FBI.
Bharara had support even among some Republicans, but he also has old ties to a top Democratic Trump critic. “Like all of the nation’s 93 U.S. attorneys, Bharara is a political appointee who is typically replaced when a new president takes office,” according to Reuters.
Some didn’t find the firing shocking at all. “Breathless reporters ‘shocked’ @POTUS fired Schumer ally as NY US Atty. Really? Arrogant Bharara won’t resign as asked; gets fired-move on!” former presidential candidate Mike Huckabee tweeted.
“President Barack Obama nominated Bharara to the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York post in May 2009. The Senate unanimously confirmed his nomination, and he was sworn into office that August,” said a Columbia University bio of the prosecutor.
The former acting Attorney General has been in the news a lot, giving testimony to Congress that she did not believe Trump’s travel ban to be constitutional.
Trump fired Yates when she instructed Justice Department attorneys not to defend the ban. She has also said she warned members of the Trump administration three times that then-National Security Adviser Michael Flynn could be open to blackmail from Russia because he misled Vice President Mike Pence about the nature of his phone calls to the Russian ambassador.
The White House letter explaining Yates’ termination was laced with strong rhetoric. It said in part,
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. This order was approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel.
Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.
It is time to get serious about protecting our country. Calling for tougher vetting for individuals travelling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country.
Yates, a Barack Obama appointee, had written an extraordinary letter by historical standards, telling Justice Department lawyers not to defend the Trump executive order, which had spurred protests at airports throughout the country. Yates was serving as the acting AG until Trump’s nominee Jeff Sessions took over the position.
Trump’s press secretary Sean Spicer has called Yates a “political opponent” of Trump.
On May 8, testifying before a Senate subcommittee, Yates said that she can’t talk about whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia because doing so would cause her to reveal classified information.
Trump fired Reid as the White House usher. The reason is unclear, although there were reports that Trump wanted a loyalist in the position.
The Washington Post first reported that Angella Reid had been relieved of her duties on May 5. The newspaper said that no reason was made public and quoted an official as saying, “We are very grateful for her service and wish her the very best.”
Reid was appointed to the job in October 2011, and she took the place of the first African-American to hold the post, Adm. Stephen W. Rochon.
“Reid joined the White House in 2011 under then-President Obama. While Trump officials said it isn’t uncommon for staffs to transition between administrations, it is unusual for a chief usher to be dismissed,” reports USA Today.
There was a time that Chris Christie seemed joined at the hip with Donald Trump. After all, who can forget the images of Christie looking shell-shocked behind Trump on the campaign trail?
Since Christie was an early supporter of the president, it surprised some when he was unceremoniously dumped – some said fired – from the Trump transition team.
A former U.S. Attorney, Christie once prosecuted the father of Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, and some said that was the reason that Christie had seemingly fallen from favor. Politico reported that Trump was concerned about “Bridgegate,” the scandal in which the governor’s former top aides were convicted after accusing Christie “of knowing more about the shutdown of the George Washington Bridge than he let on.”
However, Christie is back in the president’s good graces, as he’s now been appointed to lead a task force to combat the opioid epidemic.
Left the Administration
That brings us to Flynn himself.
The retired lieutenant general, who was serving as Trump’s national security adviser, technically resigned after reports hit the news, via leaks, that Flynn had spoken about sanctions to the Russian ambassador before Trump took office. He stepped down 18 days after Yates says she warned the White House about him.
However, the Trump administration has made it clear that Flynn was asked to go.
Trump and his underlings have decried the leaks, while saying that Flynn’s offense was not being entirely forthcoming with Pence on the matter.
“Unfortunately, because of the fast pace of events, I inadvertently briefed the Vice President Elect and others with incomplete information regarding my phone calls with the Russian Ambassador,” Flynn said in his resignation letter. “I have sincerely apologized to the President and the Vice President, and they have accepted my apology.”
Questions were swirling for several weeks that Flynn violated the Logan Act by discussing sanctions with the Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during a phone call, which was possibly recorded by the FBI as part of its surveillance of Russians in the U.S.
Flynn and other members of the administration initially denied that he discussed sanctions during the call. Vice President Mike Pence denied the accusations during an interview with CBS in January. Trump has attempted to turn the public’s attention toward anonymous leaks to the news media of classified information.
As with Flynn, Monica Crowley wasn’t fired. In her case, she decided not to take a job in the Trump administration.
However, she’s making the list because of the controversial nature of her decision to leave.
Crowley is a conservative author and pundit who left the Donald Trump administration under the shadow of plagiarism allegations.
Crowley, 48, was going to assume the position of senior director of strategic communications for the National Security Council in the Donald Trump administration.
She will no longer take the job. That revelation came a short time after CNN’s KFile published what it said were numerous instances of plagiarism in Crowley’s writing, and Politico then found examples in other work.
In a written statement explaining why she wouldn’t join the Trump administration (she was supposed to work under National Security Adviser Mike Flynn), Crowley said, according to The Washington Times: “After much reflection I have decided to remain in New York to pursue other opportunities and will not be taking a position in the incoming administration.”