The director of the FBI serves a ten-year term. Director Comey, fired by the President today, was four years into that span. To end Comey's term prematurely, the President needed cause- a specific, articulable reason.
So the President- who praised Comey after the inauguration, as well as when Comey injected the FBI into last year's election, to the President's manifest benefit- decided today that the actions Comey took over Mrs Clinton's emails, all those months ago, was wrongly handled and used it to terminate Comey's term of office.
Now, suddenly, the President- or somebody- says Comey can't run the FBI effectively today because he was mean to Hillary Clinton last summer and fall, or infringed on the authority of the loathed former attorney general Loretta Lynch (who was also black).
Comey is succeeded by Andrew McCabe, the FBI's deputy director, who ran the emails investigation, and so is up to his nipples in the same conduct used to justify firing Comey.
The Justice Department's inspector general was doing an internal investigation of Comey's actions. That was not allowed to reach its conclusions.
The President did that on the recommendation of the Attorney General, Jeff Sessions.
Sessions recused himself some time ago- he said- from all things relating to the Russian investigation, and the Clinton investigation.
Today he dealt himself back into the game to tell the President to fire the cop investigating the President's men- and who refused, last week- to rule out the involvement of the President.
There are calls- some new, some renewed, for appointment of a special counsel to take over the case.
There used to be a process for appointment of special prosecutors- passed after the last time America saw a President try to shut down an investigation of his men- that was intended to insulate them from being yes-men.
That law gone (both parties despised it), any special prosecutor appointed now (short of a new congressional act, passed by the Republican majorities of both houses) will be a creature of the Deputy Attorney General- chosen by the President- if the Attorney General returns to being recused; or Jeff Sessions himself if he decides he likes being out of the box.
The White House says that this all began with the Deputy Attorney General, Rod Rosenstein, who sent a memo to Sessions recommending it, and he sent it on to the President.
News reports tonight say Rosenstein's memo was full of quotations pulled from a Hillary Clinton campaign document critical of Comey's revived email investigation.
The President now, also, gets to pick a new FBI director to carry on- or wind down- the Russian investigation in a manner more flattering to the President.
The President has no one in mind to replace Comey, leaving the agency adrift.
Today marks the third head to roll in a slower-moving purge reminiscent of the Saturday Night Massacre under President Nixon. The tumbrels have previously carted off the careers of the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Sally Yates, the former Acting Attorney General, who has been getting savaged all day by the President for her testimony before a congressional committee yesterday.
The President, whose press secretary said today that a DC law firm has been hired to send Senator Lindsey Graham a certified letter saying the President has no business ties to Russia, had his Oval Office Operations Director walk the letter terminating Comey over the Hoover FBI Building by hand.
That man, Keith Schiller, is the President's former bodyguard and security chief at Trump Tower.
Apparently, no one at The White House knew Comey is in Los Angeles to speak at an agency recruiting dinner. Comey learned he'd been cashiered from TVs on in the room where he was speaking at an FBI office.
The letter was not delivered to the FBI until after Comey found out from the TV, The New York Times says.
Why did the President not offer the Director the opportunity to resign? Even if he was to be fired, why not perpwalk Comey out of his office for the cameras?
Two potential reasons suggest themselves: one, that it's just another day with the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. The other is that something is known, or might be about to be known, so dire that the President and his men considered decapitating Comey's office the easier decision.
The chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee- which is running the only investigation left with a shred of credibility- is North Carolina Senator Richard Burr.
He says he is "troubled."