This week we again had reason to doubt the stability of the man in the White House and wonder if he is merely testing the rule of law or truly believes he is above it.
Trump made his decision on firing Comey only after the director confirmed the FBI was looking into the Russian connection and indicated the investigation was ramping up. Trump said of Comey “he’s not my man”, lending credence to rumors he had demanded Comey pledge his loyalty during dinner in January. Trump has suggested he secretly recorded the conversation, and has threatened Comey about going to the press. It is easy to believe that the director of the FBI was fired not because he was doing a lousy job, as Trump claims, but because he was “disloyal’ and might do his job too well.
Looking back, Trump’s actions have tainted each of the investigations launched. At the president’s request, the heads of the committees in the Senate and House, Sen. Burr and Rep. Nunes, declared there was no evidence of collusion with the Russians. Nunes was forced to step down from the House investigation after he was fed documents by the White House intended to support the claim that Trump’s wires were “tapped”. Sally Yates was fired. Her replacement, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who could appoint a special prosecutor, was ordered to write the memo outlining the charges against Comey. This pattern of attempts to derail the investigation on multiple fronts could lead to charges of obstruction of justice and serve as the basis for impeachment.
Obstruction of justice is a criminal act, but impeachment itself is essentially a political act. The calls for an independent investigation must not abate. We can give no slack to those in Congress who put partisan interests above the law. They will find themselves in the minority soon enough. In the end, even a much more skillful and devious president, Richard Nixon, paid a price. Trump may find as well that it is not so easy to evade justice.