Despite the outrage over Donald Trump’s stunning firing of FBI Director James Comey – the man heading up an investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia – there seems to be a general consensus that the FBI’s reputation cannot be tarnished and the president isn’t powerful enough to influence this important investigation in a meaningful way.
Former FBI leaders disagree.
According to Newsweek, the FBI investigation into Trump’s ties to Russia may go on, despite the person running the bureau, but it’s possible – even probable – that the president could choose someone who would have the power to take that investigation off the rails.
Citing former FBI supervisors, Newsweek reports that Trump’s new FBI director “could drag [the Russia investigation] out forever” so nothing ever really comes of it.
More from Newsweek:
President Donald Trump’s sudden firing of FBI director James Comey could jeopardize the bureau’s investigation into alleged collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election, former FBI supervisors tell Newsweek.
While investigations typically continue after a FBI director steps down, a director who is sympathetic or friendly to Trump could easily drag out the FBI probe into Trump staffers and Russia, the ex-supervisors say.
The report goes on, quoting former FBI officials who say that there are easy ways for an FBI director to “kill a case” if he wants to help the man who appointed him – Trump, in this case.
“You don’t kill a case just by telling everyone to stop investigating it. That would be obstruction of justice,” says Myron Fuller, a former special agent who once ran the Honolulu division. “But you could drag it out forever … The FBI could work it until the cows come home.”
Another former FBI supervisor tells Newsweek that while all investigations continue regardless of a change at the top, the person who replaces Comey could steer the probe in a different direction.
“The person who replaces Comey will have influence on how the investigation goes,” says Joseph Lewis, a former assistant director of the organized crime branch of the FBI’s criminal division. He added that a FBI director sympathetic to Trump could, “Play devil’s advocate and sow seeds of doubt with the investigators.”
At the end of the day, Trump could no longer control FBI Director Comey, and he didn’t like the direction in which the investigation was headed – so he used old reasons related to Hillary Clinton’s email inquiry as justification for firing Comey.
Now that he’s gone, there is still a conventional wisdom that the FBI cannot be penetrated or controlled by Trump – no way, no how.
But in a presidency full of troubling and unprecedented things, the American people shouldn’t be surprised if the desperate President of the United States stoops to such levels in order to save himself from a scandal that blows up a little more each day.
The only way to prevent that from happening, as former special agent Myron Fuller told Newsweek, is for Republicans to join Democrats in calling for an independent investigation – one that is out of the reach of Donald Trump’s very small hands.