For the umpteenth time since November, the president’s political opponents are now whipping themselves up into full Constitutional Crisis™ mode. Now, with the firing of FBI Director James Comey, have come the same fretting screeds that have accompanied nearly every move and measure conducted by this administration, regardless of severity.
In the few hours since Comey was shown the door in a manner that only President Trump could pull off – with the news flashing behind Comey mid-speech in Los Angeles – the typical cries of abuse of power, abject fear, and nonstop references to President Nixon’s Saturday night massacre have come forward in full force (along with the now-overused term “constitutional crisis” from Democrat politicians).
Life does come at you fast. In a matter of minutes, hatred and distrust of the president once again took precedent, and it was as if there had never been an investigation to begin with. Aren’t these the same Democrat loyalists who called for Comey’s head back when he was the partisan hack that stole the election from Hillary Clinton? Didn’t he undergo a new round of demonization after the Left’s scorned chosen one blamed Comey’s October surprise for her campaign loss?
A real constitutional crisis, and really a threat to the principles predating the document, is a trust and subservience to an entrenched, seemingly permanent, bureaucratic government that distances its citizens from ownership of their republic by elevating employees to a status higher than that of elected officials. But I digress …
This is not 1973; nobody has broken into the Watergate Hotel, and removing a public officer is definitely not a constitutional crisis. “[I]f any power whatsoever is in its nature Executive,” said President James Madison in 1789, “it is the power of appointing, overseeing, and controlling those who execute the laws.” The president is completely within his power to fire the people who work for him, regardless of the matter.
This is the firing of an apparent careerist who, rather than inspire confidence in his office and the blind pursuit of justice, managed to arouse suspicion at every turn through his bungled handling of his duties. In reality, Comey was a public figure who engaged in more virtue signaling than any trigger-warning-happy college student, while playing fast and loose with his job as top federal investigator.
The problem here is timing more than anything. Comey should have been fired a handful of times long before Tuesday, and well before the election. The optics are absolutely spectacular for the opposition.
Given the current focus on the presidential team’s alleged work with the Kremlin, it just gave the Left’s list of nebulous Russia theories a serious shot in the arm. Now, suspicions that Comey’s firing was driven by Trump’s anger at the FBI’s Russia probe — rather than any of the other multitude of reasons to do so — make this whole situation smell pretty bad indeed.
Perhaps these concerns are a chief reason why one shouldn’t trust government oversight to bureaucrats, or why the founders never expected executive bureaucrats to conduct independent oversight of the man who holds the pink slips in the first place.
Those wailing, crowing, caterwauling, and otherwise tooth-gnashing over this move would do well to remember that the checks and balances on the president’s power come from the other two branches — not from the people on his payroll.
We would all do well to remember how the separation of powers is meant to work: Full executive authority is invested in the president, sans asterisk. Meanwhile, Article I of the Constitution gives Congress a well-stocked toolbox to deal with executives who get too rambunctious for the office. They don’t need magic bureaucrats to invoke these powers — a prospect which would appear to be on the immediate horizon as the move’s timing has raised bipartisan sets of eyebrows on Capitol Hill.
In the meantime, the constant criers of “constitutional crisis” might want to take an hour and actually familiarize themselves with our constituting document itself.