Thursday, May 11, 2017

Comey’s Firing: Trump Is Above the Law


Copyright © 2017 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved

My husband Charles and I learned that President (or should I say “Führer”?) Donald Trump had summarily and unilaterally fired FBI director James Comey on May 9 when we were out together in Balboa Park at one of the museums during his last day in town before he left on a five-day vacation. I was in a room with a straight couple watching a video about the architect Irving Gill when one of them looked at their smartphone and said to the other, “Did you know Trump just fired Comey?”
I hadn’t, but I wasn’t surprised. I’ve watched Donald Trump during the nearly two years from the time he suddenly emerged as the front-runner for the Republican Presidential nomination in June 2015 with his scurrilous attack on Mexican-American immigrants as criminals and rapists until now, the fourth month of his Presidency. I’d heard of him even before that, of course, and though I’ve never watched an episode of his “reality” TV show The Apprentice I’d certainly seen enough of the promos of him with his orange hair and bad spray-on tan chewing out some hapless contestant and exulting in the words, “You’re — FIRED!
It had certainly occurred to me that Trump seems to run his administration the way he ran The Apprentice, humiliating his staff for the sheer sadistic joy of doing so. When the Los Angeles Times in two separate articles last week called Trump “cruel” for supporting the Republican health-care bill, which will throw millions of Americans out of access to the health-care system, the writers probably didn’t realize that Trump seems to regard being called “cruel” as a compliment.
He so exults in his own brutality and contempt for the norms not only of political but of human behavior that he fired Comey in a particularly mean-spirited and psychologically devastating way. When the news broke Comey was addressing a group of FBI agents and staff in Los Angeles and someone noticed that a TV set in the back of the room, tuned to a news channel, was announcing that Trump had just fired him. At first Comey thought it was a practical joke someone in his audience was playing on him. Comey didn’t even get the dignity of Trump summoning him back to Washington and firing him to his face the way the contestants on The Apprentice did.
What’s more, the explanation Trump originally gave for firing Comey — that he had received memos from attorney general Jeff Sessions and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, criticizing Comey for having broken FBI protocol by announcing details regarding his agency’s investigation of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails during the 2016 campaign — was so preposterous it couldn’t help but remind me of the famous line in the 1942 film Casablanca in which corrupt local police chief Renault (Claude Rains), ordered by his Nazi bosses to find a pretext to close down Rick’s Café Américain immediately, announces he is “shocked — shocked! — to find that gambling is going on here,” just before someone hands him his winnings from the gaming tables.
Indeed, that night Charles and I ended up watching our DVD of Casablanca and not only marveling at how beautifully this 75-year-old movie holds up, but how it suddenly seems more politically relevant than it has at any time since it was new and the outcome of World War II was hardly a done deal. (At one point in the film Rick Blaine, played by Humphrey Bogart, is asked who he thinks will win the war, and he answers, “I haven’t the slightest idea.”) In the 3 ½ months of Donald Trump’s Presidency, it has become clear which side he is on in the great battle between liberty and tyranny.
The battle was summed up, ironically, by the U.S.’s first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, when in Alton, Illinois on October 15, 1858 he said the battle between slavery and freedom was part of “the eternal struggle between these two principles — right and wrong — throughout the world. They are the two principles that have stood face to face from the beginning of time, and will ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of humanity and the other the divine right of kings. It is the same principle in whatever shape it develops itself. It is the same spirit that says, ‘You work and toil and earn bread, and I'll eat it.’”

The Divine Right of Trump

It’s been clear from day one of Donald Trump’s Presidential campaign that he stands, not for the common right of humanity, but for the divine right of kings. It was evident in his speech at the Republican convention that nominated him, when he described the problems facing America and said “I alone can fix” them. It was clear when he gave unprecedented powers and responsibilities within his administration to his daughter Ivanka and his son-in-law Jared Kushner, as if he were grooming them to be his successors the way one of the many dictators he admires, Kim Jong Un of North Korea, succeeded his grandfather and father.
Indeed, one of the clearest signals of the deep-seated contempt with which Trump holds democracy and his desire to be not America’s President but its dictator is his much-vaunted admiration for other dictators. The admiring words he’s spoken about authoritarian leaders like Vladimir Putin of Russia, Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey, Abdel Fattah al-Sisi of Egypt, Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines (who not only has ordered the murder of alleged drug dealers without trial but claims to have killed people himself) and that “smart cookie” Kim Jong Un of North Korea (whom Trump praised for having risen to the top of his country from opposition within his family, without mentioning that the way Kim has dealt with opposition within his family is to have his relatives murdered), compared with the cold shoulders democratic leaders like German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull (whom Trump is so disinterested in he can’t even bother to remember his name) have got from Führer Trump, indicate where his true values lie.
If there were any lingering doubts that Trump couldn’t care less about the constitutional limitations on the President’s power — after he called judges who ruled against him “so-called judges” and denounced the independent media as “enemies of the American people” — his summary firing of FBI director Comey just as Comey’s investigation of Russia’s influence in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election was getting closer to Trump’s associates and possibly to Trump himself removed it. Donald Trump has absolutely no interest in being a powerful but constitutionally constrained President of the United States. What he wants is to be a plebiscitary dictator, formally elected (by an undemocratic process, a leftover of the early struggles between free and slave states that had to be compromised to have a Constitution at all) but able to govern however he pleases without opposition from Congress, the courts, the media or the American people.
Not long after his election but well before he took office, Trump told an audience in Louisiana that “I don’t need your votes anymore. Maybe in four years I will.” It’s an attitude he’s shown time and time again, most recently not only in firing Comey but at the same time announcing that he’s ordering an investigation into so-called “voter fraud” that’s really aimed at shrinking the size of the electorate and preventing people unlikely to vote for Trump, or Republicans in general (poor people, young people, people of color), from being able to vote at all. Indeed, the flurry of executive orders Trump publicly and boldly signed in his first days in the White House made him look — deliberately, I suggest — less like an elected U.S. President and more like a general in a banana republic who had taken over the government in a coup d’état and was ruling by decree.
Comey’s firing was first justified with the preposterous excuse that Trump was shocked — shocked! — to find that the FBI director had abused his power in the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private e-mail server in 2016. Of course, Trump had praised Comey in October 2016 when he threw the campaign into turmoil by announcing 11 days before the election that after having decided Clinton’s handling of her e-mails as Secretary of State was “reckless” but not prosecutable, he was reopening the case based on a new cache of e-mails that had turned up on the computer of scapegrace New York Congressmember Anthony Weiner.
Indeed, just a little over a week before he was fired Comey had offered his own preposterous explanation for why he announced his late-in-the-campaign bombshell, saying that when he discovered the existence of Clinton e-mails on Weiner’s computer (which, it turned out nine days later, contained nothing that added to the information already available to the FBI four months earlier), “I stared at ‘speak’ and ‘conceal.’ ‘Speak’ would be really bad. There’s an election in eleven days. Lordy, that would be really bad. Concealing, in my view, would be catastrophic. Not just to the FBI. but well beyond. And, honestly, as between really bad and catastrophic, I said to my team, ‘We’ve got to walk into the world of really bad. I’ve got to tell Congress we are restarting this.’”
The real reason Comey had not only reopened the Clinton investigation 11 days before the election but had announced it through an open letter to the Congressional committees that supervise the FBI was pretty obvious. Like quite a lot of Americans, Comey believed that Clinton would defeat Trump in the election — and he knew that if Clinton won but Republicans kept control of Congress, he’d never hear the end of it and he’d be investigated to kingdom come. When the election turned out the other way, Comey probably heaved a sigh of relief and believed Trump’s assurance that he could stay on as FBI director for the remaining seven years of his term.
No such luck, at least according to the latest explanations from Trump as to why he fired Comey. “Regardless of recommendation, I was going to fire Comey,” Trump told NBC News reporter Lester Holt in an interview scheduled to air May 11. “He’s a showboat, he’s a grandstander, the FBI had been in turmoil.” Apparently there’s room for only one showboat[er] or grandstander in the Trump administration, and that’s Donald Trump. While insisting that Comey’s firing was not an attempt to derail the FBI’s investigation into alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. election, Trump thanked Comey in the letter firing him for having assured him three times that Trump himself was not a target of an FBI investigation. (Later NBC News interviewed a former FBI official who said Comey would never have told Trump he was not under investigation, whether or not that was true.)
“I know that I’m not under investigation,” Trump told Holt. “Me, personally. I’m not talking about campaigns. I’m not talking about anything else. I’m not under investigation.” That in itself should be a warning to everybody in the federal government, and especially everyone on the White House staff or in the Cabinet departments, of what Trump’s attitude towards them is. He doesn’t care about you. He doesn’t care about anyone but himself. He will break promises right and left to get rid of people he thinks have become burdensome or simply are of no use to him any longer.
And he’ll do that not only about people but issues as well. One reason Trump got the Republican nomination is that he promised during the primary campaign that he would not cut Social Security or Medicare — no doubt reassuring a lot of the senior citizens in the Republican base that he’d be a better choice than the other Republicans who said they would cut those programs. He also promised that he’d “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (so-called “Obamacare”) with “something fantastic” that would offer more people access to health care and lower health insurance premiums and deductibles. Then he endorsed and helped push through Congress a bill that does the exact opposite.
Trump also appointed long-time Social Security and Medicare opponent Tom Price as his Health and Human Services Secretary and has offered a budget that cuts $800 billion from Medicare and Medicaid (America’s health-care program for the poor, which the Affordable Care act expanded). As the Social Security Works organization put it, “Donald Trump is attacking low- and middle-income families, children, seniors and people with disabilities in order to hand a $6 trillion tax break to his wealthy friends ― the largest tax break in U.S. history.”

Trump Isn’t Like Nixon: He’s Worse

A number of commentators have compared President Trump to Richard Nixon and analogized his firing of Comey to Nixon’s decision to sack special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox on October 20, 1973. Nixon’s action became known as the “Saturday Night Massacre” because his attorney general, Elliot Richardson, resigned rather than fire Cox. So did Richardson’s deputy, William Ruckelshaus, who before he became deputy attorney general had been the first head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and who — unlike Trump’s pick for EPA head, Scott Pruitt, had run the agency with a genuine concern for environmental protection. It was left to the third in command, Robert Bork — later an unsuccessful nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court by Ronald Reagan and author of the anti-choice, anti-Queer book Slouching Toward Gomorrah — to fire Cox.
There are striking similarities not only between the “Saturday Night Massacre” and the Comey firing but between Nixon and Trump as people and Presidents. Both grew up with immense status anxieties; Nixon was the son of a failed gas-station owner and Trump, though he grew up with money, came from a family considered in the second tier of New York’s 1 percent because its business was strictly in the outer boroughs and they hadn’t yet cracked the sacred precincts of Manhattan. (Trump himself did that, largely through the aid of super-attorney Roy Cohn — who had in the early 1950’s been chief of staff for Red-baiting Senator Joe McCarthy, which I suspect is why a lot of McCarthy’s hectoring, bullying, snide rhetorical style has re-emerged in Trump.)
Trump grew a modest family fortune into billions, though he had losses as well as gains, but he never lost his bitterness against the New York Establishment or his feeling that they never regarded him as their equal. Like Nixon, he divides the world with an almost Manichean rigor into friends and enemies; and, again like Nixon, he’s quick to banish from his inner circle anyone who displeases him and thereby moves themselves from his friends’ list to his enemies’ list. Like Nixon, Trump hates the mainstream media and is convinced they’re on a personal vendetta against him. And both of them are also similar in their anxieties about their elections; though at least Nixon, unlike Trump, got more votes in 1968 than any of his opponents, he won with just 43 percent of the vote against two opponents — one of whom, George Wallace, split the Right-wing racist vote with Nixon and almost allowed moderate Democrat Hubert Humphrey to steal the election from him.
Throughout his first term Nixon privately seethed at the narrowness of his election victory and determined to do something to establish the legitimacy he felt he would have had with a bigger win. His first effort was to stump the country in 1970 in hopes of winning a Republican majority in the U.S. Senate. When that failed — Republicans actually lost Senate seats in that election — Nixon determined to make sure he would not only be re-elected in 1972, he would win with such a huge majority his legitimacy could no longer be questioned. Some of the things he did to achieve that were actually good — including traveling to China and establishing diplomatic relations at long last between the U.S. and the People’s Republic, arranging a détente with Russia and reaching a settlement of the Viet Nam war two weeks before the election.
But there were other, more sinister things Nixon did to rig the 1972 election. With at least his tacit approval, if not his direct knowledge, Nixon’s staff created an elaborate plan to manipulate the U.S. electoral system, including systematically spying on the Democratic Party and sending out fake news to sabotage the campaigns of any Democrats who might have had a chance to beat him. Nixon’s dirty tricks ended up pretty much the way he wanted them to — thanks in part to his staff’s manipulations, the Democrats nominated their weakest potential candidate, South Dakota Senator George McGovern — except that one small part of their giant scheme unraveled. On June 17, 1972 five of Nixon’s minions were arrested for burglary at the Democratic National Committee’s offices at the Watergate Hotel. They were there to plant a bug on the Democrats’ phones — actually to fix a bug they’d put there in a previous burglary — and Nixon’s campaign launched a cover-up which, it turned out later, the President had personally directed from the Oval Office at the White House.
But Trump has major advantages over Nixon in terms of the likelihood that he will survive the Comey scandal. First, decades of political scandal since Watergate — from Ronald Reagan’s national security staff arranging the Iran-contra arms deal to Bill Clinton’s Whitewater land deal and extra-relational sexual activities — have eroded the public’s overall confidence in democratic institutions. They’re more likely to believe that politicians lie than they were in 1973 — and less likely to care about it.
Trump’s most important advantage, however, is that his party, the Republicans, control both houses of Congress. The two Presidents who were actually impeached by the House of Representatives and put on trial in the U.S. Senate — the only process in the Constitution by which a President can be formally removed from office before his term is up — Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, both were Democrats facing Republican Congresses. Nixon, who resigned before he could be impeached, was a Republican facing a Democratic Congress. Trump not only has a Republican Congress but one whose members are so far showing no cracks in the solid wall of blind support of him. Even Republican Senators like John McCain who’ve expressed doubt as to whether Trump should have fired Comey have said it was his prerogative to do so, and to a person the Republicans in Congress have gone along with the White House line that there is no reason to appoint a special prosecutor or an independent commission to investigate the allegations that Russia influenced the 2016 U.S. election on Trump’s behalf and Trump’s people worked with them.
What’s more, there is no one in Trump’s Cabinet or his government willing to stand up with him. In his Presidency, as in his businesses, Trump has surrounded himself with yes-men and flatterers. The voices of courage and integrity in the Republican Congress and Nixon’s own government — Richardson, Ruckelshaus, Senators Lowell Weicker and Barry Goldwater (a principled conservative back when that wasn’t an oxymoron), Congressmembers Robert Michel and Tom Railsback — who demanded Nixon be called to account for his offenses against the Constitution don’t exist in the Republican Party today. (Railsback, one of the leading Republicans on the House Judiciary Committee to vote for Nixon’s impeachment, also carried the bill through which the federal government finally apologized and offered compensation to Japanese-Americans who were interned during World War II — a racially motivated decision Trump has praised and cited as a precedent for his anti-Muslim immigration order.)
Indeed, at least partly because he had to work with a Congress of the other party, Nixon’s record is considerably more progressive than any Republican President since. He was the first President of either major party to offer a plan for a guaranteed annual income for Americans. He was, as Lawrence O’Donnell recently pointed out on MS-NBC, the most recent Republican President to put forth a plan for universal health care. (The first Republican President to do that was Theodore Roosevelt, but he only did it after the Republicans denied him renomination in 1912 and he ran to regain the White House under the banner of the Progressive Party, which became known to history as the “Bull Moose” party from the nickname Roosevelt got tagged with at the party’s convention.)
Also, Nixon not only signed into law the great pieces of environmental legislation that emerged from the first Earth Day in 1970 — the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act and several others — he took them seriously. He appointed committed Republican environmentalists like Ruckelshaus and Russell Train to enforce them. When, on December 31, 1970, Nixon signed a bill to limit pollution from cars, he said, “I think 1971 will be known as the year of action, and as we look at action, I would suggest that this bill is an indication of what action can be. Because if this bill is completely enforced, within four years it will mean that the emissions from automobiles which pollute the environment will be reduced by 90 percent.”
The tradition of Republican environmentalism begun by Theodore Roosevelt and continued by Nixon and his successor, Gerald Ford, ended abruptly when Ronald Reagan embraced the anti-environmentalist demands of the Southwestern “Sagebrush Rebels” in 1980 and appointed avowed environmental-regulation opponent Anne M. Gorsuch (mother of Trump’s Supreme Court appointee Neil Gorsuch) to run the EPA. The Republicans’ active campaign against the environment has continued through today, when Trump arrogantly insists that human-caused climate change is a Chinese hoax and willy-nilly throws open U.S. public land to fossil-fuel mining and drilling.

Why Trump Will Survive

As entertaining as it is to see Donald Trump once again stewing in the juices of his own making, there seems little doubt that Trump will survive the scandal surrounding the Comey firing. Trump, after all, has made a career out of surviving scandals and failures that would have ended the careers of less resourceful and unscrupulous men. And that’s true of his years as a businessperson as well as his meteoric two years in electoral politics. In the early 1990’s Trump was so far in debt on his Atlantic City casino projects his bankers were ready to pull the plug and foreclose on him — but he persuaded them that the casinos would be worth more with the Trump name on them than they would be without it. This not only bailed him out of that potential failure, it made him even richer when he realized he could make tons of money just licensing his name to big projects and raking in royalties without the bothersome necessity of actually building or running anything.
As a politician, he began his Presidential campaign with a slashing, openly racist attack on immigrants from Mexico — and he shot to the top of the polls for the Republican nomination, a place he never relinquished. He publicly insulted Viet Nam war hero and former Republican nominee John McCain — and his poll numbers shot up. He responded to a debate question from Fox News journalist Megyn Kelly asking him to defend his slurs against women by making a slur against her as a woman — and his poll numbers shot up again, more so among Republican women than Republican men. He made a pretty broadly fascistic appeal at the Republican convention, presenting himself (as Mussolini, Hitler and Stalin had) as the personification of his country’s destiny and the one man who could fix its problems, and he acted like an insane boor during his debates with Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton — and he pulled off one of the most stunning upset victories in the history of electoral politics anywhere.
And Trump’s winning ways have continued during his Presidency even as his White House staff seems to be one of the most chaotic and disordered in history. He got the Keystone and Dakota Access oil pipelines built despite the opposition of environmentalists, Native Americans and the previous President, Barack Obama. He got Neil Gorsuch on the U.S. Supreme Court and thus preserved the Court’s Right-wing majority. Trump and the Republican House of Representatives passed a sweeping health-care bill despite near-universal opposition not only from Democrats but from just about every professional association and business group involved with health care — and he did it three weeks after the bill was declared dead. He hasn’t been able to stop the investigations into his campaign’s ties to Russia, but he has basically been able to ignore them or declare them irrelevant and press on with his agenda.
Trump is also lucky in his opponents. When he took the Presidency, the Democratic Party was at its lowest ebb since before the Great Depression of 1929-1933. Republicans control both houses of 33 state legislatures (just one short of the number needed to call a new constitutional convention and get rid of all this nonsense about civil rights, equal protection and due process), and in 25 states they control both the legislature and the governor’s office. (Democrats have united control in only six states, and only one — California — is large.) Republicans have elected 1,000 more state legislators than they had when Obama became President in 2009, and among the things they’ve used this control to do is pass laws making it harder for people — especially young people, poor people, people of color and others less likely to vote for Republicans — to be able to vote at all.
Whatever Trump does in office to subvert the Constitution and the rule of law, he isn’t likely to be impeached because his party controls Congress and the Republican majorities in both houses won’t let it happen. He’s unlikely to lose control of Congress in the 2018 elections; Republican legislatures have done such a great job gerrymandering House districts that their majority is virtually eternal, and in the Senate the math is against the Democrats — of the 33 U.S. Senate seats up in 2018, 25 are currently held by Democrats, and 10 of those Senate Democrats will be seeking re-election in states Trump won.
The biggest hope for controlling Trump lies in direct action rather than electoral politics. Democrats and progressive independents have begun copying the strategies Tea Party Republicans used so effectively against them in 2010 and thereafter to win the GOP control of Congress and all those state governments in the first place. They’ve been confronting Republican Congressmembers at town-hall meetings (when the Republican Congressmembers bother to hold them at all) and mounting massive demonstrations to preserve all the progressive gains Trump and the Republicans are committed to demolishing: women’s rights, workers’ rights, environmental protection.
But the anti-Trump resistance is up against some formidable roadblocks. First, Trump’s base remains solidly committed to him; polls show that 98 percent of people who voted for Trump have no regrets about that choice and would vote for him again. Second, under the U.S. political system, how many votes each side has matters less than how those votes are distributed. The Electoral College and the apportionment of two U.S. Senators to each state, regardless of its population, ensures that small, racially homogeneous states have far more clout in U.S. politics than large, diverse states like New York and California.
It also doesn’t help that Right-wing movements are invariably better funded than Left-wing ones — which shouldn’t be any surprise: if you’re a super-rich beneficiary of capitalism you’re far more likely to give money to the side that pledges to lower your taxes and cut back or eliminate regulations. Nor does it help that, while the modern-day American Right understands that you can’t win social change just by electoral politics or just by direct action — it takes both — the modern-day American Left has forgotten that.
The electoral-politics and direct-action wings of the U.S. Right work together effectively and coordinate with each other. The electoral-politics and direct-action wings of the U.S. Left have an unhealthy contempt for each other; the electoral Leftists are constantly grousing that the direct-action Leftists are jeopardizing their “access” to elected officials and Democratic Party bureaucrats, while the direct-action Leftists denounce the electoral Leftists as “sellouts” and either reject electoral politics altogether or pursue the totally useless and counterproductive will-o’-the-wisp of alternative political parties, which in the U.S. winner-take-all election system is equivalent to not voting at all.
So Donald Trump really doesn’t have much to worry about. The Republicans in Congress aren’t going to take him on because that would jeopardize their ability to pass their grand agenda — wiping out what’s left of the American social-welfare state, rewriting the tax laws so what government there still is will be financed exclusively by middle- and working-class people, plundering the environment for short-term capitalist gain and shoving people of color back to the back of the bus, women back to the kitchen and Queers back to the closet. The Democrats in Congress are too few, too disorganized and too gutless to pose much of a threat at all, and Trump will easily win re-election in 2020 because the Republican sweeps of 2010, 2012, 2014 and 2016 ended the political careers of virtually all the young Democratic politicians who could have built up enough of a national reputation to take Trump on successfully.
The courts may constrain Trump for a while, but with Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell having blocked former President Obama from appointing federal judges, Trump has over 100 federal court vacancies to fill — and he will fill them with appointees from the hard-Right Federalist Society who on the big issues can be counted on to reach, independently, the conclusions and rulings Trump wants them to. People in the streets can embarrass Trump (who’ll continue to make sly digs about how they’re being paid to oppose him), but they alone can’t bring down his government.
No, it’s most likely Trump will be able to slough off this latest scandal and survive the way he’s survived innumerable previous obstacles and reversals both as a businessman and as a politician. And the degree to which Donald Trump is likely to be the most “transformative” politician in American history — much the way Julius Caesar and his nephew Augustus transformed the Roman Republic into the Roman Empire — is illustrated by the bizarre dinner he had with James Comey just before he fired him. As reported by the New York Times (, Trump asked Comey point-blank if Comey would show him “loyalty.” Comey, according to his associates who were the Times’ sources, said he would give the President “honest loyalty” but could not promise him to be “reliable” in the political sense.
In World War II, a U.S. servicemember took an oath of loyalty to the U.S. Constitution. A German servicemember took a personal oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler as the Führer and the personification of the German state. Trump was essentially following the Führerprinzip in demanding of James Comey what amounted to a personal oath of loyalty to Donald Trump. Comey responded that he would show “honest loyalty” to the United States Constitution and the republican form of government it is supposed to guarantee us. In the struggle Abraham Lincoln described between “the common right of humanity and … the divine right of kings,” James Comey in that moment stood up for the common right of humanity and Donald Trump for the divine right of kings. And that — not the Hillary Clinton e-mail case and not even transitory fears Trump might have had that an independent FBI director might uncover embarrassing information about Trump’s ties to Russia — was the real reason Trump decided Comey had to go.