Not since the video tape of Donald Trump bragging about sexual assault has his political situation seemed so precarious. Back then, even his most self-effaced supporters had to answer for it. A slew of Republican lawmakers withdrew their endorsements. After all, he couldn’t possibly win…right?
Trump fought back. Before the last presidential debate, he held a news conference with Bill Clinton’s accusers to inject some cognitive dissonance into voter’s minds. The debate itself started with 30 minutes of grotesque personal insults.
That’s where we were. The tide turned back against Hillary after the FBI director announced he was still looking into her emails. Two weeks later, Trump won the presidency.
Both presidential candidates, as it turned out, were under investigation by the FBI. Hillary Clinton for her private email server, Trump’s campaign for possibly coordinating with Russian efforts to interfere in our election.
Now, after firing FBI director James Comey on Tuesday — maybe for bungled handling of the Clinton investigation, maybe to stop the Russia investigation, maybe out of jealousy for hogging the spotlight, maybe just a bad mood — Trump is in hot water again.
Several lawmakers are calling for an independent investigation into Russian collusion.
To me, if firing Comey warrants an independent investigation, then it’s also grounds for impeachment. If you fire the FBI director to hinder an investigation of your campaign, that’s obstruction of justice.
Any defense of the firing without at least acknowledging the suspect timing is disingenuous. The Clinton email investigation ended months ago. The Russian investigation was apparently heating up.
House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell both regurgitated the (first) White House version of the story. Talk about a congressional check on presidential power: How’s that power going? Good? Ok, good.
If the firing was for a legit reason, Trump should be impeached for incompetence.
According to recent reporting, the decision happened on a whim. His communication team had less than an hour’s notice before the story broke. Many of his aides learned about the firing on TV. He met the next day with two Russian officials (yup, the election hacking dudes.)
Since Tuesday, the story of the firing has changed about four times. Trump admitted in an interview that the original version of the story — fired for bungled handling of Clinton investigation, per the recommendation of his deputy Attorney General — was wrong, and he was in fact thinking about, among other things, the pesky Russian investigation. The White House now claims the FBI was in “turmoil,” but that doesn’t jibe with any evidence, and the acting FBI director said that Comey “enjoyed wide support.”
This morning Trump went on a Twitter rampage, calling the Russian investigation a witch hunt and threatening Comey to stay quiet.
Holy cow. For a short presidency, this episode is only the latest in a series of bungles, fumbles, conflicts of interest and egregious lies.
The national government is broken. Division is one thing. Chaos is another. No legitimate agenda can be pursued amidst a category four shit storm of a White House.