Clint Watts, former FBI agent and Robert A. Fox Fellow at the Foreign Policy Research Institute: While FBI agents are notoriously independent in their investigations and will plow forward, they most certainly feel the implicit message in Comey’s firing—suppress the Russia investigation.
Investigators must have concerns about the impartiality of the Department of Justice appointees through which investigative steps must be requested, coordinated, and potentially advanced to an indictment. The Russia investigation is now slowed at best and at worst could be stopped by a Trump crony pushed in as the new FBI director. Moving forward, we should monitor the Department of Justice’s focus. If they obsess over intelligence leak investigations over Russian meddling, we will know that Trump’s power has overtaken the rule of law.
Comey’s firing also comes at a detrimental time for European allies. While France resisted Russian influence at the polls last weekend, German elections are slated for the fall. Germany faces a stiffer challenge than France. Russia has better German-language capability, more alt-right support, and anti-immigration influence in Germany than it did in France. Trump’s disruptive behavior only eases Russia’s ability to conduct influence operations in United States and Europe.