In literary studies, story is the sequence of events in chronological order. Plot is the same sequence of events, presented to the audience in a non-chronological order.
The plot of the ongoing controversy involving James Comey, former head of the FBI, widely reviled for his perceived influence on the outcome of the 2016, who has now been fired by the winner of the 2016 election:
- 9 May: Comey is fired by the President. This is within the president’s rights, but the optics look very bad. See below.
- 10 May: Media reports Comey had asked for more resources towards the FBI’s investigation of Russian influence in the 2016 election, which would include possible collusion between the Trump campaign and the Kremlin.Many members of the campaign and now presidency have been found to have unreported ties to Russia, most notably former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign after revelations he made money through an unreported Russian connection.
- May 11: Media reports that Comey had a tense and strange meeting with President Trump in February. The President demanded a pledge of personal loyalty. Comey refused. Comey documented this in conversations to confidantes shortly after the fact, for fear of being fired.Newsflash: FBI’s loyalty is to the law, not a particular office, nor its holder. See here for more details.
- May 12: President Trump courts comparison to Nixon with this beauty of a tweet:
Too young to remember Watergate? Not sure why every scandal is now called X-gate?
- May 15: Throwback to that time James Comey’s testimony buried Alberto Gonzales’s Justice Department career.
- May 16: Media reports that Comey actually wrote a memo about his meeting with the President. More juicy memo details come out: the President allegedly asked Comey to end the FBI investigation into Flynn for collusion with Russia, as a personal favor. If true, this could constitute obstruction of justice, an impeachable offense.
- May 17: More juicy memo details: Comey wrote that the President encouraged him to jail journalists using leaked information, which has not been the practice of American law enforcement. See the Pentagon Papers.
- May 17: Robert Mueller, FBI director under Presidents George H. W. Bush and Barack Obama, is appointed special counsel on the Russian election meddling investigation.The appointment was made by Assistant Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, the same guy who allegedly recommended Comey’s firing even though he knew Comey would be fired before writing the memo to the president.
Mueller is widely respected in both parties and perceived as independent. A special counsel is appointed by the Justice Department when it believes in-house officials may have too much of a vested interest in an investigation. A special prosecutor differs in the manner in which he or she is appointed.
- Comey has a history of devastating testimony before Congress.
- In February, President Trump and Mr. Comey had a meeting which Comey alleges involved
- demands of personal loyalty
- requests to end an investigation into one of the President’s close associates
- hostile plans against journalists
None of this is illegal, but it betrays an
- Comey documents this meeting in a memo
- Comey asks for more resources on the Russia investigation
- Comey is fired shortly thereafter
- The President tweets about possible secret recordings of the February meeting.
- The media learns about the memo and its contents.
- Mr. Mueller is appointed special counsel.
Things to watch for:
- Comey to testify before Congress? Reportedly, he will only do so if public. That would make for juicy television.
- Subpoena of the White House tapes? Do they exist at all? Will these ones have mysterious, minutes-long gaps in them?
You ought to be.