Toobin says firing of Comey a 'grave abuse of power'

Toobin says firing of Comey a 'grave abuse of power'
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CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin in a new commentary criticizes President Trump and says his firing of FBI Director James Comey represents an "abuse of power."

Toobin writes in The New Yorker that Trump has proven that he is "temperamentally and intellectually unfit" to serve in the White House.

"His belligerence and his mendacity have been astonishing even by his standards. Still, an undignified Twitter feed, albeit one that originates in the Oval Office, is just a national embarrassment, not a constitutional crisis," Toobin wrote.

"The firing of James Comey, the F.B.I. director, on the other hand, represents not only an abuse of language but an abuse of power."

"In 1976, Congress set the term of the FBI director at 10 years, as part of an effort to "provide the director with a measure of independence from the incumbent Administration," he wrote.

"The law did allow the President to remove the director, but the prevailing norm called for this power to be used sparingly," Toobin said.

He went on to criticize the Trump administration for initially pointing to the FBI's investigation into former Democratic presidential nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonGOP warns Graham letter to Pelosi on impeachment could 'backfire' Hillary Clinton praises former administration officials who testified before House as 'gutsy women' Third-quarter fundraising sets Sanders, Warren, Buttigieg apart MORE's email server as the reason behind the firing.

Trump later called Comey a "showboat" and a "grandstander."
 
Toobin wrote that the president in the past week "all but acknowledged" that he had fired Comey "because the director had made sure that the Bureau continued to investigate the ties between Trump's campaign and the efforts by the Russian government and its allies to hand the election to him."
 
"This is exactly the kind of investigation that requires the F.B.I. director to have independence; Trump’s short-circuiting of the probe, with Comey’s dismissal, is a grave abuse of Presidential power," Toobin wrote.
 
Toobin drew comparisons between recent events and the Watergate scandal. But he said the comparisons do not hold when looking at the "Republican response to Trump's lawlessness," which he said has "ranged from full-throated support to muted statements of concern to, mostly silence."
 
"Only the voters, in 2018 and beyond, will have a chance to send the kind of message that today’s cynical G.O.P. will understand," he wrote.
 
"In the meantime, the Trump Presidency will stagger from one crisis to the next."
 
Toobin said it is worth considering now how the president's recklessness might "manifest itself in a national-security emergency." He said the Republicans have the power to "impose limits on this Presidency or end it altogether."
 
"To date, however, no one in the leadership, or even in the rank and file, has displayed the courage to live up to the example set by the honorable Republicans of the past," he wrote.
 
"Daily, and conspicuously, Trump proves the danger of his continued service. His party’s stalwarts won’t be able to say that they weren’t warned."