The Short Version: Comey & Obstruction Of Justice

The point of it all is to break down the headlines, the week’s most controversial issues, determine why a particular issue is important and reveal the best arguments on each side of the story.

In a recent iterations of The Short Version, Cleo Abram talked about Bill O’Reilly and the fact that the man was not found to have committed the harassment in any public process, much less found guilty of a crime. Last week, well, Cleo examined the debate on climate change and asks if the U.S. should remain in the Paris Climate Agreement. This week, she talks about the firing of FBI director James Comey, director of the FBI, who was leading the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to impact the election.

Note: In general, if you have missed any of Cleo’s blogs, just go to our Home Page, type “The Short Version” into Search (magnifying glass icon) and poof, like magic, all her blogs will appear.

Cleo Constantine Abrams of the “Short Form,” offering densely packed spins on issues of national and global importance.

What’s happening?

President Trump fired the director of the FBI, James Comey. Comey was leading the investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to impact the election.

Here’s what happened:

On October 28th, 11 days before the election: Director Comey publicly notified Congress that the agency had new information in the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of a private email server. The decision earned Comey praise from then-candidate Donald Trump, condemnation from Democrats and many law enforcement officials and, eventually, blame for Clinton’s loss.

Over the last few months: Comey has defended his position as a nonpartisan officialagainst both Democrats and the Trump administration—reportedly refusing to “pledge loyalty” to Trump at a private dinner, asking the Justice Department to reject Trump’s unfounded wiretapping claims, and testifying before Congress on his decision to publicize the emails. In that testimony, Comey confirmed that the investigation into Trump’s collusion with Russia was ongoing.

On Tuesday: President Trump fires Director Comey. At first, the White House defended the decision as a move to “restore public trust,” citing Comey’s handling of the Clinton email investigation and letters from Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein recommending firing the director.

However, in an interview two days later: President Trump said those things didn’t matter. It was about the Russia investigation. In his words, “I was going to fire Comey—my decision. I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.” “When I decided to just do it, I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story.'”

Why is it important?

President Trump’s decision to fire FBI Director Comey raises questions about the independence of the law enforcement agency and this president’s respect for democratic norms.

It also might be illegal. The FBI Director is an appointed position, meaning the president can fire whoever holds it. However, dismissing the top official in charge of an investigation you want to prevent borders on obstruction of justice.

Obstruction of justice is a felony.

Debate it!

Is President Trump obstructing justice by firing FBI Director Comey?

Continue reading here.

More about Cleo Abram:

Cleo grew up in Washington D.C., lives in New York City, and loves to visit her parents in Telluride. She authors “The Short Version,” a newsletter that explains each week’s most important issue and both sides of the debate around it.

Cleo is a digital strategist now working at Vox, a general interest news site for the 21st century. Its mission is simple: Explain the news. Politics, public policy, world affairs, pop culture, science, business, and more.

Cleo’s work focuses on ways to share, educate, and inform using online platforms. While in college at Columbia University, she guided the school’s entrance into online education through her role as the youngest elected representative to the Columbia Senate, which makes university-wide policy.

She continued her work on online education at TED-Ed, the educational branch of the nonprofit, building new programs and online tools to support high school teachers worldwide.

Continuing her work with TED, Cleo founded and led an early TEDx conference, the organization’s community-specific series.

Most importantly, Cleo loves to ski.

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