Jeffrey Toobin said that President Trump’s decision to fire of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday was a “grotesque abuse of power,” comparing the current situation to Watergate.
“This is the kind of thing that goes on in non-democracies. That when there is an investigation that reaches near the President of the United States, or the leader of a non-democracy, they fire the people who were in charge of the investigation,” the CNN legal analyst said on Wolf Blitzer’s “Situation Room” Tuesday afternoon.
Trump fired Comey earlier in the day, ostensibly over his handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails, but the decision comes amid an ongoing FBI investigation of the Donald Trump campaign’s ties to Russia during the country’s meddling in the 2016 presidential election.
“I have not seen anything like this since October 20, 1973, when President Nixon fired Archibald Cox, the Watergate special prosecutor,” Toobin said. “This is not normal. This is not politics as usual.”
Toobin also referenced the recent congressional hearing, where former Attorney General Sally Yates revealed that she was fired just a few days after reporting to the administration that former National Security Adviser Mike Flynn had inappropriate contacts with the Russian government.
“His White House counsel was described yesterday as being told that his national security adviser was subject to blackmail by the Russians, and they fired the attorney general a few days later,” he said. “Now they’ve fired the FBI director. I mean, what kind of country is this?”
Toobin went on to say that even though Trump has the legal authority to fire the FBI director, it is a political move on the president’s part to oust the man leading the investigation into his own administration.
“If anyone thinks that a new FBI director is going to come in, and the agency will just take over and continue their investigation, as if this had never happened — that’s not how it works,” he said. “They will put in a stooge who will shut down this investigation.”