//  5/9/17  //  Quick Reactions

According to breaking news reports, President Trump has fired FBI director James Comey. The first thing I thought was: can he do that? And the answer is yes, he can.

This 2011 opinion from the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) provides the relevant law regarding the status of the FBI Director in the Administration. The opinion says that the Office's longstanding position has been that "the FBI Director is removable at the will of the President." It continues:

No statute purports to restrict the President’s power to remove the Director. Specification of a [ten-year] term of office does not create such a restriction. [Cite.] Nor is there any ground for inferring a restriction. Indeed, tenure protection for an officer with the FBI Director’s broad investigative, administrative, and policymaking responsibilities would raise a serious constitutional question whether Congress had “impede[d] the President’s ability to perform his constitutional duty” to take care that the laws be faithfully executed. Morrison v. Olson, 487 U.S. 654, 691 (1988).

Firing Comey is likely a bad idea, but we probably don't have a constitutional crisis on our hands. Yet.


Versus Trump: An Impeachment Primer...

10/3/19  //  In-Depth Analysis

Gotcha! No impeachment dessert until you eat your immigration broccoli. On this week’s Versus Trump, Easha (back from parental leave!) and Charlie (just starting parental leave) discuss two immigration losses for the Trump administration. The first concerns Trump’s attempts to roll back court-ordered protections for migrant children; the second, Trump’s attempt to subject more immigrants to expedited removal. Listen now!

Easha Anand

San Francisco

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps

Whistleblower Scandal Contains Reminder of Last Scandal: Time for a New One?

9/27/19  //  Commentary

Although Trump isn't deliberately using each new scandal to distract from the last one, the phenomenon is nonetheless maddening. It's like a game of Bizarro World Whack-a-mole in which each time you whack a mole another hammer emerges that somehow enables the same mole to escape.

Michael C. Dorf

Cornell Law School

Versus Trump: Can You Hear The Whistle Blowing?

9/25/19  //  In-Depth Analysis

On this week's episode of Versus Trump, Charlie and Jason discuss the legal stakes of the fight over what Trump said to the President of Ukraine and the related whistleblower complaint. A lot happened between when they recorded the episode and when it's being posted, but we still think it's a useful primer on the legal questions in this dispute. Listen now!

Charlie Gerstein

Civil Rights Corps