The answers to this question - What reasons may Donald Trump have had for firing FBI Director James Comey? - appear to suggest that there is widespread certainty that the sacking was politically motivated. And furthermore that the political motivation was to avoid or reduce the impact of potentially serious corruption charges.

This is not the first time Trump's behaviour has set off these alarm bells. Similar accusations were levelled against his sackings of Sally Yates and Preet Bharara.

As an outside observer (I live in Europe), it seems quite astonishing and appalling that he has been able to do this without political opposition. Especially when media condemnation and certainty that he has ulterior motives seems almost universal.

Part of the job of the US constitution and legislature would seem to be to offer checks and balances against the actions of the President. Why has no-one yet used any of these powers to try and rein in or remove the President? What steps would there have to be, now, in order to begin such a process?  

  • 72
    Your question assumes that his firings were politically motivated. Our jaded misgivings otherwise, it's entirely possible that he fired Comey for precisely the reasons he stated.
    – user285
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 16:30
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    @RobertHarvey possible, but not plausible. :)
    – user1530
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 16:54
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    Re: "appear to suggest that there is widespread certainty" - Keep in mind that there is a particular similar personality type that frequents stackexchange forums. The results of one answer on politics.stackexchange is probably not a good statistical representation of US politics as a whole.
    – user12841
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 17:01
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    Wasn't Comey just fired yesterday?
    – J Doe
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 17:02
  • 14
    There was "Widespread certainty" that OJ did it... "Widespread Certainty" isn't a conviction... for the same reason Hillary walks free, Trump walks free: Innocent until proven guilty.
    – WernerCD
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 6:41

12 Answers 12


No one has attempted to "rein in or remove the President" because he has not been found to have done anything illegal. These "politically motivated sackings" were not of elected officials or even people appointed by congress. They were political appointees in the executive branch, which the President is in charge of. Obama replaced George W. Bush appointees with his own. Before that, George W. Bush appointed replacements for Clinton appointees and before that Clinton appointed replacements for George H. W. Bush's people.

That's how the system works. Political appointments tend to not last long after the appointing politician is gone.

Trump won the election and, as Obama said, elections have consequences. The duly elected President of the United States would have trouble fulfilling the demands of their voters if they were constantly having the department heads loyal to the predecessor who appointed them.

  • 58
    "That's how the system works." Summarily firing the FBI director is NOT how the system works. It has never been done before. It is legal, but violates established norms.
    – Colin
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 1:41
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    @ColinZwanziger what about William Sessions?
    – phoog
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 3:12
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    He wasn't summarily fired. He was fired after a DOJ investigation into abuse of power.
    – Colin
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 5:23
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    I heard on NPR that the FBI director "serves at the pleasure of the President" and he's entirely within his rights to fire him. It may be almost unheard of, but there's nothing prohibiting it. We already know that Trump is an extremely unconventional POTUS.
    – Barmar
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 21:50
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    @Barmar not to mention Trump did sort of make his campaign fairly heavily based on... removing political people from office and replacing them.
    – enderland
    Commented May 13, 2017 at 17:55

You wrote that you are

an outside observer (I live in Europe)

As a fellow European, I can somewhat relate. There is an important thing to consider, though: in the US, professional bureaucrats play a lot smaller role than in most European countries. Your profile page states that you are from the UK. In the UK, only the very top bureaucrats are political appointees; the rest are professional bureaucrats. In the UK, the number of bureaucrats that is actually appointed by the government, and thus usually (although not necessarily) changes when the government changes is ~100. (I got that number from an answer to a different question on this site which I cannot find again at this moment.)

In the US, political appointees go much, much lower, well into the mid-level management of all the many organizations. A new administration usually replaces ~4000(!!!) bureaucrats. All the heads of all the government organizations, all the department heads of those organizations, etc. are appointed by the President and serve at the President's discretion. IOW: the President can appoint whomever they want whenever they want for as long (or as short) as they want for any reason whatsoever without owing anyone any explanation of any kind. (Some positions (~1000) require Senate approval, of course.)

The head of the FBI is one such position. It is true that customarily, the head of the FBI is usually not replaced by a new administration, simply because the position is not usually a very political one in the first place: FBI directors aren't chosen for their party affiliation, they are chosen for their crimefighting and leadership skills. Obama kept several appointees by G.W. Bush, just like Bush kept several appointees by Bill Clinton. But, that's just a custom, and President Trump is free to break from this custom, if he so chooses.

Maybe Trump fired him to stall the investigation. Maybe Comey was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor and asked Trump to fire him to keep this fact private. Maybe Trump genuinely feels that he has someone who can do a better job. Maybe he just throws a set of dice and randomly fires people. It doesn't matter: all of those are legitimate reasons, and he doesn't have to explain anything.

You can judge him morally, you can judge him politically, but there's nothing you can do legally, and so there is no "recourse". He has done nothing objectively wrong.

Note that the FBI is not the only agency that can run an investigation. In particular, Congress could run an investigation, and it is completely free of influence from the President (other than the fact that he ran for the current majority party, but hey, that's democracy).

  • 13
    -1 this is factually incorrect implying that there is no recourse. One does not need to break the law for their to be political recourse. In fact, impeachment does not require that the president breaks the law--merely that congress finds the president unfit for office.
    – user1530
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 15:56
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    @blip The answer is incomplete but factually correct. It explains why no legal recourse has been taken. Commented May 10, 2017 at 15:58
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    @Blip I think you should reconsider your downvote. There are two sides to this answer, legal recourse, and political recourse. Impeachment is as much political as it is legal. When Nixon resigned to avoid impeachment his approval rating was at 24%. He was going to be impeached because Watergate caused republican voters to abandon him. Commented May 10, 2017 at 16:48
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    I'd argue that firing a FBI director to stall an investigation of foreign influence into your election would be kind of a textbook case of high treason.
    – Magisch
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 7:15
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    @Magisch There is no crime of high treason in the US and treason is defined as "Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying War against them, or in adhering to their Enemies, giving them Aid and Comfort." which firing an FBI director because he wants to investigate pretty certainly is not.
    – DRF
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 9:01

The concern about checks and balances is important, but you are misunderstanding how these checks and balances work in the United States government.

The FBI is Not a Check on the President

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is a federal law enforcement agency located within the executive branch of the government (under the President). The FBI's mission includes combating corruption of public officials. This makes sense when the FBI is sufficiently independent of the official being investigated, but as you noted in the question, it doesn't make sense if you are interested in investigating the President.

The Congress is the Check

The U.S. Constitution allows the President to be impeached by a proceeding of the Senate:

The Senate shall have the sole Power to try all Impeachments. When sitting for that Purpose, they shall be on Oath or Affirmation. When the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside: And no Person shall be convicted without the Concurrence of two thirds of the Members present. (Art. I, Section III)

The House of Representatives brings impeachment charges:

The House of Representatives shall chuse their Speaker and other Officers; and shall have the sole Power of Impeachment. (Article I, Section II)

Impeachment is the "stick" the constitution outlines for punishing a President. The organization responsible is the Senate. In these cases, the Senate operates as a courtroom and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is the judge. The Senate is also the jury - they will vote on whether the President will be impeached or not. The Senate webpage outlines this in more detail.

This intuitively makes sense: you can't have a subordinate organization be an effective check on their boss. Checks and balances are designed so that organizations at the same level of government can balance each other. So while it may be suspicious that the FBI Director was fired, it is not a violation of any sense of checks and balances because the FBI Director is not a check on the President. It is the business of the Congress to conduct these kinds of investigations.

  • 8
    This is certainly correct...however, it also needs to be made clear that the FBI has been seen as someone independent (informally of course) and the president meddling directly with the FBI--though not illegal--has certainly led to repercussions in the past.
    – user1530
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 17:37
  • 2
    I would recommend switching your two quote blocks and descriptions - the House brings the charges first, and then the Senate deliberates on them, as I recall.
    – TylerH
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 20:30
  • 1
    Good answer, but I would point out that impeachment is far from the only formal tool Congress has to check and balance the president. Probably the most relevant tool in this case is the Senate's authority to confirm or reject the presidents nominee for Director of the FBI. (Of course, there are also softer political tools, involving cooperation with the president's other objectives.)
    – Mike
    Commented May 14, 2017 at 15:36
  • @Mike Their confirmation ability only exists at nomination time; they have no similar ability to check firings. The only stick they could possibly invoke is a threat not to confirm anyone if POTUS fires the current office holder. But there will like be an "acting director" who takes their place, without confirmation.
    – Barmar
    Commented Dec 22, 2023 at 22:15

Especially when media condemnation and certainty that he has ulterior motives seems almost universal.

This agreement may be an artifact of how the media is disseminated. The more left wing European media tends to repeat the left wing portion of the United States media rather than the right wing portion.

As a practical matter, Donald Trump is still supported by conservatives. For example, Meghan McCain has been quite critical of James Comey for some time. Yet that doesn't seem to have been published through outlets of which you are aware.

As an outside observer (I live in Europe), it seems quite astonishing and appalling that he has been able to do this without political opposition.

You also might consider how this would work differently in a parliamentary system. In the US, Trump was elected directly. He can't be unelected until 2020 (and wouldn't leave office until 2021). He could only be impeached. Yet he remains popular with his supporters.

In a parliamentary system, Trump would be less personally popular and the party would be more popular. So it would be easier to remove him and replace him with someone similar, as Theresa May replaced David Cameron. Because in parliamentary systems, the chief executive (prime minister) is selected by other politicians. In the US, Trump was selected directly by voters. Removing him, especially so soon in his tenure, would be a direct strike against his supporters. And there isn't really any other tool to keep him from firing people.

I also rather question the assertion that he hasn't had political opposition. The framing of your question is from his political opposition.

Similar accusations were levelled against his sackings of Sally Yates and Preet Bhara.

Preet Bharara (correct spelling) was fired as part of a larger group, as previous presidents have done. It doesn't protect Trump since the Attorney General of New York could still do any investigation that Bharara could have done. The odd thing about the Bharara firing was not that he was fired, it was that Trump had considered keeping him. Bharara refused to discuss things with Trump and has been making political noises that suggest he may be running for office or angling for a job in the media.

Sally Yates was fired for disobeying a direct order based on one of Trump's campaign promises. She was only being retained (briefly) to help smooth the transition to Jeff Sessions. It wasn't like she was a permanent employee who was fired. She was a departing employee who was released early due to gross disobedience.

Comey is a bit different. He was less than four years into a ten year term. However, there were rumors that Barack Obama had considered replacing him for his antics around the Clinton emails. The week before his termination, he was lambasted again by Hillary Clinton. The claim that Comey had lost control of his agency (and leaks within it) was first made by Obama. It's not a ridiculous charge for Trump to make.

You should expect this criticism to be launched any time Trump let's anyone go in the Justice department. On the bright side, there aren't many political appointees left.

Note that there are some things that can be done after a firing. The next FBI Director will require a Senate hearing. We can expect it to be rigorous. Of course, Harry Reid's changes to the system mean that they don't even need to get all of the Republican Senators to vote for the nominee. Prior to that, the nominee could have been filibustered which would have required eight Democrats or Independents who caucus with the Democrats as well as all the Republicans.

  • 8
    Generally good answer, though "Trump is still supported by conservatives" is maybe a bit of a stretch. Certainly by some conservatives, but many conservatives never really supported him in the first place and still don't (though lots of those voted for him anyway in the general election, due to viewing Hillary Clinton as being an even worse choice.) That said, it's certainly accurate to say that conservatives in general aren't ready to impeach Trump without much stronger evidence of wrongdoing. Impeachments of U.S. Presidents are very rare and require strong consensus.
    – reirab
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 16:06
  • 3
    This answer gets quite a bit off topic
    – user10303
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 1:30
  • 1
    " We can expect it to be rigorous." [citation needed]
    – Yakk
    Commented May 12, 2017 at 18:09

I think all previous answers miss the obvious. It's pure partisanship. Trump is a Republican, there are Republican majorities in both houses of Congress. It hasn't gotten to the point where a sufficient number of Republicans (if any :-() are willing to abandon partisanship for principle, and vote to either impeach him, or have him removed on grounds of incapacity (under the 25th Amendment), which are the only recourses available.

I really don't see this as much different than European politics. A prime minister with a strong majority in the legislature could likewise do similar things with impunity, until s/he offends a sufficient part of his/her own party.

  • 5
    Firing the head of the FBI, even if done to prevent him from investigating the President, does not fall under "high crimes and misdemeanors". Impeaching the president for firing the head of the FBI would be naked partisanship and represent a complete breakdown of the rule of law.
    – Mark
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 23:24
  • 10
    @Mark: Not JUST firing the FBI director, but firing the FBI director in order to try to stop an investigation into possible illegal activities by Trump or on his behalf. See above-mentioned similarities with Nixon & Watergate. There are many other reasons as well, though IMHO more suited to a 25th Amendment removal.
    – jamesqf
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 5:15
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    @jamesqf how on earth did you figure out that's the reason he fired him? sounds to me like a conspiracy theory. there was never a shred of evidence trump did anything. it's fabrications by the media. Commented May 11, 2017 at 10:22
  • 3
    @user2914191: Why else would Trump have fired him, if not to try to sidetrack the investigation? If Trump hadn't done anything he needed to (try to) conceal, why would he not have cooperated fully with the investigation? It's Nixon/Watergate all over again: the initial misdeeds, if in fact there were any, pale in comparison to the attempted coverup.
    – jamesqf
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 17:00
  • 4
    @user2914191 Occam's razor. We know for a fact the officially stated reason is untrue, because Trump and Sessions voiced exceptionally strong support for Comey's actions at the time. Therefore we know the actual reason differs from the official one, and we also know the administration doesn't want to state the actual reason. That leaves exactly one reason that's plausible.
    – Peter
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 22:02

Jorg W Mittag and CharMart's answers are factually correct but incomplete. To summarize the points that they have made:

  1. Trump does not appear to have broken any laws.
  2. The President has the legal authority to replace an FBI director.
  3. There is a valid motivation to replace Comey, even if that motivation wasn't the real one.

All of these mean there is no LEGAL recourse. A political recourse is a different matter. Currently Republicans, the party Trump nominally belongs to, control the House and Senate. During the campaign, high profile republicans such as Paul Ryan, John McCain, and Lindsey Graham, publicly fought with Trump. All of the linked articles, were published before the election.

Trump has many Republican views, but he is not a Republican in the same way that John McCain, Paul Ryan, and Lindsey Graham are republicans. They are lifelong politicians, and the past decade they have a big role in writing the Republican platform and choosing which issues are brought to the forefront. Trump is an outsider with no political experience, who often embarrasses the Republican Party. The investigation into Trump's ties with Russia are not the only embarrassing things he has done.

Since the election, the Republican party has not been sure what to do with their new leader. I will use Lindsey Graham as my example because I live in his state, South Carolina, and have been watching him more closely than other Republicans. The same voters that elected Graham, also elected Trump by a fair margin.

Graham has publicly criticized Trump since the election, but his tone is much softer than it was before the election. In the news article, Graham responds to a wild and ridiculous claim Trump made, by asking him for evidence. Graham does not say Trump is lying. If Graham butts heads with Trump too brutally and too publicly, Graham could lose reelection.

As long as South Carolina voters have faith in Trump, Lindsey Graham will not fight him too publicly. There are other Republican leaders who are in very similar situations. They will only publicly stand against Trump if their constituency is behind them. This survey done in February shows that Trump's approval rating among republicans is still pretty high, and is higher than republican congressional leaders.

My conclusion: Republicans will not take any serious political action against Trump unless his approval ratings among republicans drop significantly. He won't get impeached unless he breaks the law AND loses the support of Republican voters.

  • Perhaps we're just not agreeing on terminology? Are we considering impeachment legal recourse or political recourse? If congress deems him "unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office" is that legal or political recurse?
    – user1530
    Commented May 10, 2017 at 16:57
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    This reads like a lot of opinion about how the politics will shake out. Can you provide a reference backing up this line of thought? Commented May 10, 2017 at 17:07
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    "It is not unheard of for a new president to replace an FBI director" That's a very weaselly way of phrasing "The FBI director has been fired on exactly one previous occasion." (source: BBC) Commented May 10, 2017 at 17:08
  • 1
    @Blip Impeachment is a legal recourse that is decided by politicians. This is in stark contrast to legal recourse decided by judges or juries. Commented May 10, 2017 at 22:39
  • 1
    @user2914191 5 sentences, 1 question. 4 of the 5 sentences are factually inaccurate, and the remaining sentence is a hypothetical about a fictional situation you incorrectly assert has happened.
    – Peter
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 22:15

Allegations against trump are wholly lacking a shred of evidence. It was a narrative invented by the media. Here's how this works.

  • Invent a narrative that russia hacked the election
  • Claim trump is involved with russians
  • Keep running the story nonstop
  • Trigger an investigation
  • Point to the investigation as evidence of wrongdoing

To answer your question, there's nothing illegal about president firing FBI director. More likely than not, President Trump fired Comey for the reasons he provided. The Trump russia conspiracy theories are arguably no different from republican's obama birth certificate muslim infiltrator claims.

  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat.
    – Philipp
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 8:24
  • 2
    This answer is only a week old but also very out of date now. :/
    – user1530
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 18:10
  • 1
    This appeared in the low quality review queue this week (30/11/2020) while it may not be the best, most accurate or well sourced answer in the Question, deleting it after 3 and 1/2 years doesn't look good. Either we're removing things we don't like, or we're really bad at clearing up things that shouldn't be here in the first place.
    – Jontia
    Commented Nov 30, 2020 at 9:39

Part of the job of the US constitution and legislature would seem to be to offer checks and balances against the actions of the President. Why has no-one yet used any of these powers to try and rein in or remove the President? What steps would there have to be, now, in order to begin such a process?

Expanding on indigochild's answer a bit...

Impeachment proceedings are brought in response to "high crimes and misdemeanors", which aren't explicitly enumerated anywhere, but are generally understood to be gross abuses of power, dereliction of duty, obstruction of justice, or other betrayals of public trust.

You don't get impeached for being bad at your job, or for being nakedly political in appointments or firings. The President has a lot of freedom to staff the Executive as he or she sees fit. It's just that in the past, most American politicians had a concept of "shame", and usually avoided doing things that appeared dishonorable (or at least covered them up more effectively).

The House has to choose to bring articles of impeachment, and they may be perfectly happy with how and why the President fired Comey (because let's face it, Comey did not cover himself or the Bureau with glory over the past year). If the House did bring articles of impeachment against the President, then the Senate would have to choose to convict him and actually remove him from office.

Now, if it's true that the President has admitted that he removed Comey specifically because of an FBI investigation into conflicts of interest or criminal behavior by the President or his staff, then we've clearly crossed the line into "high crimes and misdemeanors" territory (obstruction of justice) - that's part of why President Nixon was impeached.


The US is in an unfortunate situation where politics matter more than literally anything else, so this Congress is unlikely to impeach this President for anything short of outright treason unless it seriously weakens the Republican Party's chances in future elections. Congress may choose to censure the President, which has no real effect other than to be an official "Bad dog! No cookie!" admonition.

40-some-odd years ago, Congressional Republicans convinced President Nixon to resign rather than face impeachment, but not out of political concerns - to them, it was genuinely better for the country that the President not be forcibly removed from office.

Ultimately, the fault lies with us, the voters. We truly get the government we deserve, and right now we deserve the most indolent, venal, petty, and incompetent government imaginable. Political literacy is at a dangerously low level in the US right now, combined with a strong anti-intellectual and narcissistic bent.

Unfortunately, we get to inflict the results on the rest of the world.


People who wonder about such things forget that "firing" is what made Trump popular. From wikipedia we read:

The popularity of the show led to Trump becoming known for his fateful catch phrase, "You're fired!" and for the emergence of Trumponomics, a "portmanteau of Donald Trump and economics initially spelled ‘Trump-Onomics’ (2004), [which] started out as a bland managerial concept on cable TV, meant to convey the notion that 'impressing the boss' was the only way to 'climb the corporate ladder' (The Apprentice, Season 1)."

So perhaps Trump doesn't care about the politics of his firing outside the executive branch. But it will have an effect on politics within the executive branch. If you work for the "Donald" you don't mess with him or his objectives, you get your job done. It isn't like the FBI doesn't have anything better to do. There are drug problems, scams, terrorists, gangs, murderers, rapists, etc. to spend those resources on. And perhaps most important, if you work for the "Donald" make sure you don't get more headlines than him.

And we have been trained by 14 seasons of the Apprentice to accept this kind of behavior as acceptable and reasonable.


The question itself relies on the narratives being perpetuated, that this was somehow to stall an investigation; that the timing is questionable. Not only is the President acting within his full authority as the Presidents before him have, Comey's performance during the Clinton investigation was appalling - she should have been charged - he was dismissed promptly after it was discovered he misrepresented facts about Huma Abedin during testimony before Congress. The final straw, as it were.

If you pay attention to the media cycle and look just a few months in the past, you will see most of this malarkey is being spun up by people upset it was Trump who pulled the trigger rather than "President Clinton", which Maxine Waters just openly admitted to. It is political theater at its finest, with no true substance.

  • 4
    "she should have been charged" on what legal basis? "he misrepresented facts" what facts?
    – Federico
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 13:47
  • 4
    I'm not sure how you can claim the timing is not questionable, since there has been a formal DOJ Inspector General review going on, that they did not wait for, and since the POTUS was tweeting his dissatisfaction with being investigated just before dumping the guy running the investigation. Indeed, since none of what Comey was fired for happened after Trump took office, the timing is pretty much inexplicable if one takes the claimed reasons at face value. And that doesn't even get into open cheering by the parties that fired him for the very actions they claim he's being fired for. Commented May 11, 2017 at 14:03
  • 1
    Please edit to back-up this answer. Commented May 11, 2017 at 14:07
  • 2
    Your answer would make more sense if the people firing Comey didn't voice exceptionally strong support for Comey's actions. While Comey probably did do the wrong thing, both Trump and Sessions have gone on record strongly disagreeing with that interpretation. They said he did the right thing, and then fired him for doing (what they call) the right thing
    – Peter
    Commented May 11, 2017 at 22:08
  • 1
    Trump, himself, HAS SAID HE FIRED COMEY BECAUSE OF THE RUSSIA INVESTIGATION AGAINST HIM. Arguing that there is "nothing illegal about that" is just a silly diversion.
    – user1530
    Commented May 13, 2017 at 19:02

POTUS nominates the heads and inmediate subordinates of all federal agencies. Other positions in the legislative and executive are also nominated by the elected president, but need Senate comfirmation.

There is a publication United States Government Policy and Supporting Positions "Plum Book" with all the positions nominated by the President.

About the Plum Book

Published by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs and House Committee on Government Reform alternately after each Presidential election, the Plum Book lists over 9,000 Federal civil service leadership and support positions in the legislative and executive branches of the Federal Government that may be subject to noncompetitive appointment, nationwide. The duties of many such positions may involve advocacy of Administration policies and programs and the incumbents usually have a close and confidential working relationship with the agency or other key officials.

The list originated in 1952 during the Eisenhower administration. For twenty-two years prior, the Democrats controlled the Federal Government. When President Eisenhower took office, the Republican Party requested a list of government positions that President Eisenhower could fill. The next edition of the Plum Book appeared in 1960 and has since been published every four years, just after the Presidential election.

Theres no need to explain the reasons of nomination or dismissal. It's among POTUS attributions.

  • 3
    This is a ridiculous answer. Of course there is a need for the president to justify his actions. This isn't a McDonald's he's running. It's a nation.
    – user1530
    Commented May 14, 2017 at 23:54
  • 2
    Ridiculous? It's how the system works since 1952. The executive can nominate whoever they want and no need for explanations why. If they don't have confidence in the nominated person how can they assure he follow their policies?
    – roetnig
    Commented May 14, 2017 at 23:59
  • 2
    I think you are looking at this purely from a legal/administrative HR position rather than a political POV. The very fact that Trump is getting all this flack right now is because he couldn't properly explain his reasons. Yes, legally he doesn't have to. Politically he does else face the fact that what is happening now is what is happening now. Nixon was in his legal right to fire people but if you recall, there was quite a bit of blowback because of it due to his inability to explain his reasons outside of the suspicious.
    – user1530
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 1:13
  • Ok. So "legally" he don't have to explain.
    – roetnig
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 6:39

The President doesn't have to justify anything. The FBI director serves at the pleasure of the President. He can fire him for any reason, or no reason at all. PERIOD. Clinton fired his too.

  • 1
    Clinton dismissed Sessions after an investigation in to ethical improprieties which predated his presidency. Not quite the same thing.
    – user11249
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 0:43
  • Your answer isn't really applicable to the bigger picture. The legality of the situation isn't really in question (or, at least wasn't at the time). It was a matter of whether it was appropriate.
    – user1530
    Commented May 17, 2017 at 18:09

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