ISU Political Scientist On FBI Firing: 'So Many Optics Mistakes' | WGLT

ISU Political Scientist On FBI Firing: 'So Many Optics Mistakes'

May 10, 2017

Former FBI Director James Comey walks at his home in McLean, VA, Wednesday, May 10, 2017. President Donald Trump fired Comey on Tuesday, ousting the nation's top law enforcement official in the midst of an investigation into whether Trump's campaign had ties to Russia's election meddling.
Credit Sait Serkan Gurbuz / AP Photo

When asked to characterize the political savviness of the Trump-Pence administration, an ISU political scientist shot back during Sound Ideas with "there is no political savviness."

Illinois State University Politics and Government Department Associate Professor Meghan Leonard pointed out the firing of FBI Director James Comey on Tuesday is the third dismissal of a federal employee investigating Russian meddling in the election.  Also fired by the President since taking office since are former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates and New Your City based U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. 

"There may have been good reasons to fire all three," said Leonard. "But at some point that count adds up and people start to think that anyone getting close to finding out something negative about this administration, their response is to fire them and that looks really, really bad."

And while optics may not matter right now,  Leonard points out that the President's approval rating is so low that some GOP lawmakers may begin to defect. 

"What he needs are Republican senators to fall in line with the administration and we're starting to see that shake. I think as we see his approval rating to continue to decrease and members of the senate see more and more of the outspokenness of their constituents,  he's going to start losing some," said Leonard.  

Leonard said the Oval Office meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister on Wednesday, the day after firing the head of the organization investigating Russian meddling, is another mistake.

"Once again, right. You just wonder how bad the decision making is in the administration in terms of political optics," said Leonard.   

She said while the administration wouldn't want to reschedule the meeting with the Russian Foreign Minister, they could have put off the firing for a while. She also pointed out a meeting with former Nixon advisor Henry Kissinger amid comparisons of the Comey firing to firings of investigators during the Watergate scandal as another self-inflicted wound. 

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