There have long been reports indicating that President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey because the latter would not sufficiently assure the former of his loyalty. But a recent report suggests that America truly is in the grip of an unprecedented constitutional crisis over who is in charge of watching the leader of the free world.
One week after Trump was sworn is as the 45th president of the United States, he met with Comey at a private dinner and asked the FBI director to pledge his loyalty, according to a report by The New York Times. When Comey refused to do so — Comey instead merely promised Trump that he would always be honest with him — Trump waited until later in the dinner and then repeated his request. Comey again declined, reiterating that he would only promise his honesty but not his loyalty.
Eventually Trump asked Comey for "honest loyalty," and Comey replied that he would give that to Trump.
According to the sources close to Comey, the FBI director told them about this conversation on the grounds that they not discuss it publicly while he served as FBI director. Now that he has been fired, they are coming forward — albeit anonymously.
The Trump White House, not surprisingly, is denying that this happened. "We don’t believe this to be an accurate account," deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told The Times. "The integrity of our law enforcement agencies and their leadership is of the utmost importance to President Trump. He would never even suggest the expectation of personal loyalty, only loyalty to our country and its great people."
Trump has claimed that Comey asked to meet with him so that he could keep his job, and that during the conversation he reassured the president that he was not under investigation. This account is disputed by multiple FBI sources, according to NBC News.
Regardless of which story you choose to believe, one thing is clear: The FBI is not supposed to be loyal to any one man, but to the Constitution of the United States. If Comey did indeed refuse to pledge loyalty to Trump, he was correct for doing so; if Trump did indeed fire Comey because he was insufficiently loyal, he violated the spirit of the Constitution by doing so.
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