AUSTIN (KXAN) — President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey was a “horrible moment for our democracy,” says the University of Texas History professor Dr. Jeremi Suri.
“There’s a general rule in politics you don’t fire the person investigating you. That’s exactly what President Trump has done,” says Suri, who currently holds the Mack Brown Distinguished Chair for Leadership in Global Affairs at UT.
“James Comey was a highly respected individual. A man of integrity. Many might have disagreed with some of the things he did but he was acting out of integrity for the law enforcement interests of our country.”
Suri believes the president’s claims that the months of investigations into possible connections between the Trump campaign and Russia to be a “witch hunt” are false.
“Michael Flynn has actually been found to have broken the law. He collected money from the Russian government illegally.” Flynn was President Trump’s chief campaign advisor on foreign policy and his NSC advisor for the first month of his administration.
“If these things had been revealed about Barack Obama, every Republican would be jumping up and down to get Obama impeached right now,” Suri adds.
Suri defends congressional Democrats who once called for Comey’s resignation for his involvement during the presidential campaign, but who are now strongly defending Comey in the wake of his firing.
“So, I think there have been many Democrats who have criticized Comey for what they say as bias against Hillary Clinton in the election and things that he did in certain kinds. But those are policy differences. They did not actually question whether Comey was trying to do his job. They differed on policy with him. And some of them did call for his resignation. But nobody advocated the firing of someone who was investigating a high level official.”
Suri believes the American people deserve honesty from both political parties. He says the next FBI Director will have a daunting task.
“I would like to see a career civil servant who has extensive experience working with Democrats and Republicans as Comey had, and someone who has no connection or loyalty to the President of the United States,” Suri says.
He believes a special prosecutor is needed to probe possible Russian ties to the Trump Administration.
Suri is the author of eight books on contemporary politics and foreign policy. He teaches graduate and undergraduate courses at UT.