Comey firing brings mostly criticism from Valley lawmakers


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YOUNGSTOWN

President Donald Trump’s firing of James Comey as FBI director has drawn criticism and concern from various circles, with some saying it could possibly lead the nation toward a constitutional crisis.

“Anytime a president fires someone heading up an investigation into the president and his associates, how can we not approach a constitutional crisis?” said David B. Cohen, a University of Akron political science professor who specializes in presidential politics. “It was an attempt to shut down the investigation into the Russian connection to the Trump campaign. That Trump’s administration didn’t believe there would be any uproar from this shows there are rank amateurs working” for the Republican president.

But Jonathan Adler, who teaches constitutional law at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, said while there are reasonable causes for concern, the situation has yet to reach the level of crisis.

“I think talk of a constitutional crisis is premature and hyperbolic,” Adler said. “When everything is a crisis, nothing’s a crisis.”

A lot depends on the administration’s next move, he said.

Trump fired Comey on Tuesday, writing in a letter to him that getting rid of him was needed to restore “public trust and confidence” in the FBI. Comey was overseeing an investigation into Russia’s involvement in the presidential election and an examination of Trump campaign’s ties to that country.

U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Howland, D-13th, said firing “the person investigating you happens in a Third World dictatorship, and not the United States. Everybody should be very concerned about this, even if you voted for the guy.”

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman, a Republican from the Cincinnati area, said: “I’m concerned about eroding trust in this premier law enforcement agency."

U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson of Marietta, R-6th, downplayed the firing, saying, “This president, like any president, is free to hire and fire appointees to federal agencies.

But Ryan said, "If he fired Comey on Jan. 21 [Trump’s second day in office], I would have been fine. But Comey is in the middle of an investigation of the president, and it raises all kinds of suspicions. It sets a dangerous precedent.”

Ryan and Cohen compared Trump getting rid of Comey to then President Richard Nixon’s decision in 1973 to fire Archibald Cox, the independent special prosecutor overseeing the Watergate investigation that eventually led to Nixon’s resignation.

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, a Cleveland Democrat, said, “Trump made a decision to fire a guy he thought was going to hurt the presidency.”

Read more reaction in Thursday's Vindicator or on Vindy.com.

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