Retired Air Force Four-star General Michael Hayden has told BBC radio that President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey “sends a chill throughout the federal bureaucracy.”
General Hayden has experience both in the military and in national intelligence, having served as Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) from 1999 to 2005 and as Director of the CIA from 2006 to 2009.
In his interview with the BBC, he specifically cites concerns for what Hayden calls “the permanent government” – “you know, the folks who do this for a living to help the President govern wisely.”
“In the last 110 days, this President has fired a National Security adviser, an acting Attorney General and the Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.”
He points out that the last two were fired “after they said something publicly that disagreed with the President.”
General Hayden said that he had worked with Mr. Comey in the past and not always agreed with him, but calls him “a principled guy and his own man.”
The general states that he was happy that the FBI Director had taken on both the Clinton investigations in 2016 and the Russian investigations this year.
He suspects that the public explanation for Comey’s firing “wasn’t the heart of the issue.”
“It may have simply been Jim Comey’s independence” that resulted in his firing, according to Hayden.
While the general did not dispute the President’s right to make changes to those positions that serve at the pleasure of the White House, he suggests that the firings will have an effect on the Federal workforce.
“We may now be requiring that bureaucracy to have uncommon courage in its dialogue with the President.”
You can listen to the radio interview here.