An FBI inquiry that started with a hard look at Trump associates’ possible ties to the Russian government could easily have turned up some totally unrelated criminal misconduct. By the same token, it’s entirely possible that whatever it is Trump is covering up by refusing to release his tax returns has nothing to do with Russian bribes or blackmail.
But what we know from the tax return saga is that Trump is absolutely covering something up. Something big and important. And anyone with half a brain can see that sacking Comey is, likewise, part of covering something up. Maybe something to do with Russia and maybe something else. But something.
I also think the election, which obviously still weighs on Trump, was part of the decision. On the one hand, there was renewed attention last week to the argument that Comey won the election for Trump with his October 28 letter about supposedly new Clinton emails. That wounds Trump's pride. (He won on his own, dammit!) On the other hand, Trump probably has developed such a hatred for Hillary that he blames Comey for letting her off the hook in the summer (although if Comey had brought charges against her then, that really would have been him throwing the election to Trump). And until now, with Comey as director, there's been no possibility of a renewed FBI investigation of Clinton. I think Trump is quite serious about wanting that. I think he'll expect a reopened investigation from whomever he appoints, and won't appoint anyone who doesn't promise such an investigation.
But isn't the FBI supposed to be independent of The White House? Trump doesn't understand that notion and doesn't care, and he doesn't have to because he could name a horse to replace Comey and get at least fifty votes in the Senate.
I'm trying to imagine Trump's short list. Maybe he'll be persuaded to pick someone with relevant experience -- but don't count on it. Rudy Giuliani, who hates Hillary Clinton as much as Trump does, would seem to be a strong possibility. I think Jason Chaffetz, who was itching to make investigating Hillary his sole mission in life, might have a shot. It could be Chris Christie, too, but I think Jared would talk Trump out of that. Who else? Kris Kobach? Marc Mukasey?
I don't know if they'll actually be on a short list once Trump talks to grown-ups who don't spend all day watching Fox, but I bet he's seriously thinking of several Fox regulars: Jeanine Pirro, Judge Napolitano, Sheriff Clarke. Maybe even Joe Arpaio. (I could also imagine Trump seriously considering Keith Schiller, the former Trump bodyguard who now works in the Oval Office and who delivered the letter terminating Comey to the FBI).
This is a terrible moment in American history, and the Republicans will not put country over party. They'll rubber-stamp any Trump nominee, however tainted or unqualified. There won't be an ongoing FBI investigation of Russiagate after this -- and there sure as hell won't be a special prosecutor.
ALSO: Good point here.