The firing was FBI Director James Comey "was not terribly well done," because President Donald Trump failed have all of his "ducks in a row" first, former Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Sunday.
"I've fired a lot of senior people myself," Gates told host John Dickerson on CBS's "Face the Nation." "And I think the key when you feel compelled to remove a senior official is, essentially, to have all your ducks in a row at the beginning.
"Have everyone understand what the rationale was. If possible, be in a position to announce who was going to step in as the interim, immediately. And, if possible, announce who you are going to nominate to replace that person – somebody of impeccable integrity and reputation disarms a lot of the worst criticism that it's some kind of a power play."
President Trump could have avoided a lot of "blowback," and should have known replacing a senior official was "going to be contentious," Gates added.
"It's a professional approach to replacing a senior official, which is always going to get a lot of attention," Gates continued, as he went over the steps that should have been taken. "It's always going to be contentious, but having a single story in line in terms of how it happened and why it happened, that everybody is on the same page, and then what the next steps are, I think that helps to diminish the blowback that you get."
With regard to questions of "loyalty" commitments by senior officials serving the Trump administration, Gates defined administration loyalty as not leaking information or undermining authority by keeping "my disagreements with you private" – not merely being a "yes" person.
"Loyalty means doing what you think is in the best interest of that person as well as the country," Gates told Dickerson. "And often that loyalty means telling them things they don't want to hear. It's not being sycophantic. It's not telling them how wonderful they are every day. It's being willing to tell them the days they are not wonderful. And when you think they're making a mistake."
Despite the criticism, Robert Gates also admitted, "broadly philosophically," he is "in agreement with [President Trump's] disruptive approach" to politics and foreign policy.
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