Two decades before news outlets were reacting to the firing of an FBI Director by sitting President Donald Trump, another presidential figure terminated the career of a Bureau Chief: William Jefferson Clinton.
The circumstances around the firings are not as dissimilar as much of the media is spinning it. News outlets like CNN explain away parallels between the presidential firings with the shoulder shrug, “the two cases couldn't be more different.”
Footage from the news broadcasts around the time of Clinton's 1993 firing of Former FBI Director William Sessions (no relation to current Attorney General Jeff Sessions) shows it was not without controversy. Sessions, in fact, refused to resign, while saying he needed to “stay the course” on the bureau's investigations.
It was a day and age before instant digital reaction, CNN explains, before painting the picture that FBI Director Comey's firing might be related to the open-ended counterintelligence investigation he was conducting into Russia's activities during the U.S. election.
The consistent spin about this investigation is that this was somehow akin to a criminal investigation into President Donald Trump's activities and connections.
It's a conspiracy theory being spun by the media and with no end in sight — as former Director Comey's investigation would have been. It goes without saying that the next FBI Director will be duty-bound to carry out such a counter-intelligence investigation into Russia's election meddling — a point made by acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe on Thursday.
Actor James Woods, a fierce critic of the left with a sizable Twitter following, was blunt in his reminder that Bill Clinton also fired an FBI Director, while dredging up a name from the past: Vince Foster.
Vincent Foster was determined to have committed suicide and indeed, the lawyer suffered from clinical depression before his untimely death. Nonetheless, his death is related to a Clinton investigation that would be undertaken by the Justice Department.
The website Snopes confirmed the timing of Clinton's firing of former FBI Director William Sessions and Foster's death, but rated the claim as “Mixed” due to associated conspiracy theories that Foster was murdered. Indeed, five separate investigations led to the conclusion that his death was a suicide, though there were remaining questions, like why the bullet was never found.
Donald Trump further stoked speculation about the circumstances surrounding Vincent Foster's death while on the campaign trail. In a 2016 interview, then-candidate Trump let Hillary Clinton have it:
“It’s the one thing with her, whether it’s Whitewater or whether it’s Vince or whether it’s Benghazi. It’s always a mess with Hillary," he said.
Trump continued, as cited by The Washington Post:
He called theories of possible foul play “very serious” and the circumstances of Foster’s death “very fishy.”
“He had intimate knowledge of what was going on,” Trump said, speaking of Foster’s relationship with the Clintons at the time. “He knew everything that was going on, and then all of a sudden he committed suicide.”
He added, “I don’t bring [Foster’s death] up because I don’t know enough to really discuss it. I will say there are people who continue to bring it up because they think it was absolutely a murder. I don’t do that because I don’t think it’s fair.”
The Weekly Standard, while disavowing all claims that Foster was murdered, does however shine a light on the controversies surrounding the Clintons' behavior after the lawyer's death. It cites the Free Beacon's Andrew Styles, who puts the Clintons' behaviors into context:
Foster’s death was officially ruled a suicide. The Clinton White House eventually admitted to misleading investigators about how senior officials had seized and disposed of files relating to the first couple’s controversial investments in the Whitewater Development Corporation, a failed real estate venture.
Clinton spokeswoman Dee Dee Myers admitted that then-White House counsel Bernard Nussbaum, who had recovered documents relating to the Whitewater controversy from Foster’s office after his death, did not turn over the documents to the Clinton family’s personal attorney, contrary to what White House officials had claimed. Nussbaum had actually given the documents to Hillary Clinton’s chief of staff, who placed them in a White House safe for five days before being turned over to the family attorney.
The New York Times claims that Clinton fired Sessions for “evading taxes and refusing to cooperate with an investigation of a home mortgage loan.”
Vox says Clinton was not under investigation by the FBI when Sessions was fired. This may technically be true. But there was a broader public investigation going on into the Clinton finances, one that would lead to a Justice Department subpoena of Clinton records related to Whitewater in early 1994 — and one inherently tied to Hillary Clinton's fellow Rose Firm lawyer Vincent Foster.
The left-leaning publication then makes the case that Clinton would come to “regret” replacing Sessions with Louis Freeh, who would investigate the Clintons “again and again.”
“Clinton couldn’t fire Louis Freeh — even though he wanted to — because Louis Freeh was investigating him,” Weiner says. “It would have been seen as an obstruction of justice.”
The Washington Post laid out the series of events regarding Whitewater, a timeline that overlaps with the July 1993 Sessions firing:
If Hillary Clinton knew about the billing records then, she chose not to release them or refer to them in her 1992 responses. The Washington Post was also making repeated requests to the campaign during that period for any documents showing the extent of her legal work for McDougal and Madison.
One year into the Clinton presidency, there was renewed interest in the billing records. This time it was from federal investigators. In December 1993, one month before the appointment of an independent counsel on Whitewater, Justice Department investigators sought the billing records. They were among the first documents subpoenaed in early 1994 by Robert B. Fiske Jr., the original special counsel.
The Rose Law Firm could not provide them, nor could the White House. Rose officials said they were missing. For two years, Fiske and then his replacement, Kenneth Starr, tried to get them, as did the RTC and the Senate Whitewater committee. Where were they? Who had them?
The circumstances regarding the discovery of records related to Whitewater is nothing short of astounding:
One day in late July or early August 1995, Carolyn Huber was in the reading room on the third floor of the White House residence, an area she often trolled for letters, newspapers and magazine clippings that needed to be filed. Huber was a longtime friend and trusted helper of the Clintons. She had been the office manager at the Rose Law Firm for 12 years. When the Clintons reached the White House, she came along to handle personal correspondence and other private matters for them.
On that summer day, she found a sheaf of records lying on a table in the middle of the book room – 116 pages of records. She said later that these had the appearance of law firm records. But it did not connect that these might be the long-sought Rose billing records of Hillary Clinton. She has said that she put them in a box with some “knickknacks,” took the box back to her office and stuck it under a table.
The turn of events as narrated by Vox paints the picture that Sessions's firing was much different than Comey's. It does this by taking a leap in logic that the Trump's FBI Director firing was done under suspect circumstances, while Clinton's was not.
But Vox, like much of the media, does this by implying that Trump is personally under investigation, although this does not appear to be the case: Russia is the subject of a counter-intelligence investigation into election meddling. A prior FBI investigation focused on Donald Trump during the campaign found no clear links to Russia, as reported by The New York Times.
Indeed, in a recent interview, Donald Trump made the point that he was not the subject of the FBI investigation. As he stated about his discussion with former FBI Director Comey:
“I said, if it's possible would you let me know, 'Am I under investigation?' He said: 'You are not under investigation.'”
Trump stated during an interview with NBC this week that he was going to fire Comey regardless.
“Look he’s a showboat, he’s a grandstander,” he said. “The FBI has been in turmoil. You know that, I know that. Everybody knows that. You take a look at the FBI a year ago, it was in virtual turmoil – less than a year ago. It hasn’t recovered from that.”
The cherry on top of this media narrative battle is that numerous Democrats have called for Comey's firing due to his perceived meddling in the presidential election. When it comes to President Donald Trump, the media's message is clear: You just can't win.