James Comey is out of a job. The former FBI director was abruptly fired on Tuesday, which he reportedly learned not from Donald Trump himself but from the news alerts that started flashing on nearby TV screens while he was chatting with FBI agents in Los Angeles. Clearly he didn’t see it coming, and there are plenty of questions in the aftermath. Maclean’s asked Google to provide us with the five most common questions about the Comey affair that Canadians have searched for over the past 24 hours, and then set out to answer them.
1. “Why was James Comey fired?”
That depends on who you ask.
Donald Trump, in a letter terminating Comey, wrote that he was firing Comey on the recommendation of the Attorney General’s office that new leadership was needed to restore public trust in the FBI. The Attorney General’s office, meanwhile, recommended Trump dismiss Comey because of how the FBI director handled the Hillary Clinton private email server scandal, including his announcement, less than two weeks before election day, that the FBI had discovered new emails. Ironically, that decision by Comey is probably among the biggest reasons why Trump is in the White House right now.
Others are skeptical of Trump’s motives. Trump never suggested he had any concerns about Comey during his first few months in office—in fact, he repeatedly praised Comey. But the FBI director didn’t put himself in Trump’s good books when he recently testified that there was an investigation into Trump’s campaign team and their contact with Russian officials, and whether Russia had meddled with the election. Days before his firing, Comey had reportedly asked lawmakers for more resources for the Russia probe. Now that Comey’s out, many in Congress, including some Republicans, are calling for the appointment of a special independent prosecutor to take on the Trump-Russia file.
2. “Who appointed James Comey?”
President Barack Obama appointed James Comey as FBI director in 2013 for a 10-year term. The pick was seen as a bipartisan choice, considering Obama is a Democrat and Comey was previously a registered Republican who served as deputy attorney general under President George W. Bush.
The Senate confirmed Comey by a vote of 93-1. (Sen. Rand Paul was the lone dissenting vote.)
3. “How tall is James Comey?”
He’s tall—about 6’8”.
For comparisons sake, the average NBA player this year was 6’7”, while Trump is 6’2”. (If you’re curious, go here for an infographic showing the height of every American president.)
4. “Who will replace James Comey?”
Trump still has to make his selection, but there is plenty of speculation about who could be his next pick.
If the president wants to reward those who were loyal to him during the election campaign, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie could be up for consideration.
If Trump wants a bipartisan pick, the former commissioner of the New York City Police Department, Ray Allen, has loads of law enforcement experience and worked under President Bill Clinton during his administration.
Or Trump could make the simplest choice by selecting the FBI’s former deputy director, Andrew McCabe, who is now acting FBI director after Comey’s dismissal. However, Trump may not want to give him the top job, considering McCabe’s wife, Jill, took money from a Clinton ally in her recent failed bid to become a senator for Virginia.
Regardless of who Trump taps for the job, the person will still require Senate confirmation. It’s normally no big deal—Rand Paul’s vote against Comey in 2013 was the first time a senator voted against a pick for FBI director since 1972—but with Trump at the helm, nothing is ever a sure thing.
5. “Will James Comey speak out?”
Probably not, even though he is technically now allowed to voice his opinions. “Comey strikes me as professional enough to not do a talk show circuit and talk about what he knows,” Stephen Farnsworth, a political scientist at University of Mary Washington, said this week. “But it wouldn’t surprise me if information about these investigations leaks at a greater pace from some of his friends and allies in the Justice Department.”
MORE ABOUT JAMES COMEY:
- How Donald Trump’s frustration at James Comey boiled over
- Republicans close ranks around Trump after Comey firing
- Trump fires FBI director James Comey for “not doing a good job”
- Trump, via Twitter, defends Comey firing
- Donald Trump’s firing of James Comey is ‘breathtakingly unwise’
- Trump fires Comey: There is no road map from here
- The letters behind FBI Director James Comey’s firing
- FBI director James Comey fired in clash with Trump