In an interview with The Hill this week, President Trump did something he seldom does: He admitted that he made a mistake. In this instance, it was in regards to how he treated former FBI Director James Comey, who has since accused the president of asking him for his personal loyalty, of pressuring him to let Mike Flynn off the hook, and of any number of curious actions during the four or five months he served in his administration. As a result, Trump now admits that he should have handled the situation differently.
But his regret may not be what his critics want to hear.
“If I did one mistake with Comey, I should have fired him before I got here,” Trump told The Hill. “I should have fired him right after the convention, say – ‘I don’t want that guy.’ Or at least fired him the first day on the job. I would have been better off firing him or putting out a statement that I don’t want him there when I get there.”
After the convention! We’re going to assume that Trump means “after the inauguration.” Or, perhaps, after the election he could have put out the statement in question, which would have encouraged Comey to find another gig by January 20. Certainly it would have been amusing to see Trump try to fire Comey after the Republican National Convention in June 2016 – and Comey would have deserved it, after the way he let Hillary Clinton off scot-free – but that probably wouldn’t have worked.
Instead, Trump had to wait until nearly a year later, at which time he fired Comey on the (partial) basis of a recommendation from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. The president has since confirmed that he would have fired Comey with or without that letter and has given various accounts of what, exactly, was the last straw.
These various accounts – and Comey’s own testimony – laid the foundation for the appointment of Special Counsel Robert Mueller and the bizarre investigation into whether or not Trump “obstructed justice” when he fired his FBI chief. Seeing as how he’s the man at the top of the Executive Branch, under which the DOJ and FBI fall in the chain of command, this is of course a silly proposition.
But there’s no question that Trump could have saved himself considerable political headache by firing Comey on Day One. If you think that would have stopped the left from going into full witch hunt mode on the president, however, we have to strongly disagree.