There is nothing good about the Trump presidency. With last night’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, the balance of power that stabilizes our democracy is in danger of shifting disproportionately to the executive branch. But if we had the luxury of being able to detach ourselves from the present situation and look upon what’s currently unfolding like sports spectators, we’d have to appreciate history setting up what had previously only been a thought experiment: we finally have proof that the Republican party would willingly enable the rise of a dictator if it meant they got to stay in power.
And accordingly, Republican media hacks have already done their duty of spinning Comey’s firing as 100% normal, business-as-usual politics. But the facts of the matter are that Comey was investigating collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russians, subpoenas had just been issued to gather information, and the request to terminate Comey (supposedly) came from Jeff Sessions—the Attorney General who had to recuse himself from the FBI’s investigation because he lied under oath about his interactions with the Russians.
Whether the insistence to fire Comey came from Sessions or not is immaterial; what matters is that this is a blatant attempt to stymie and possibly erase the investigation. It would be one thing if conservatives duly noted the alarm bells this dismissal is sounding off but urged calm until more was known, but no—conservative media goons are insisting that any concern about it is just crazy conspiracy theory. So leave it to the vacuous Hugh Hewitt to rise to the occasion and spin, spin, spin (“Comey’s firing isn’t like the ‘Saturday Night Massacre.’ It’s pretty straightforward,” The Washington Post, 5/10/2017):
Anyone who thinks [Comey’s firing] is connected to a coverup of “Russian collusion” has to believe that both Rosenstein and Sessions would participate in such a corrupt scheme. I don’t.
I do. As I said, Sessions lied under oath about his contact with the Russians, so there’s something wrong with Hugh if he can’t figure out why someone who would lie about the subject that’s being investigated might want to hinder that investigation. Even more, Rosenstein has only been deputy Attorney General for two weeks, which leaves me in the very uncomfortable position of actually agreeing with Bill Kristol:
And there’s the bizarre letter Trump wrote to order Comey’s termination, which was dropped off at FBI headquarters by Trump’s personal bodyguard even though Comey wasn’t in Washington; he was in Los Angeles speaking when the news came on a television behind him and caught him so flat-footed he thought it was a joke. Pay attention to the underlined sentence:
Here Trump does something clever, unwittingly or not. By lying about not being under investigation (it’s his campaign that’s being investigated, of course he’s part of what’s being investigated), Trump performs a rhetorical trick that allows him to deny interfering with an ongoing investigation without actually having to explicitly say that he’s not interfering with an ongoing investigation. Ie, in Trump’s mind, if he’s not under investigation, then it’s literally impossible for him to interfere with that investigation because it doesn’t exist. None of that is true, of course, but it allows shills like Kellyanne Conway to go on Anderson Cooper and repeatedly claim that Trump is somehow exempt from the investigation looking into his campaign.
It’s not surprising to me that Hewitt would automatically take the dismissive stance—for someone who writes opinion pieces, he doesn’t seem to write his ‘opinions’ so much as regurgitated spin to make Republicans look blameless in any situation. And I’m not surprised that low-level radio hosts who are the equivalent of sleazy used car salesmen like Bill Mitchell back Trump up. But I’m disappointed (but again, not all that surprised) when the supposed intellectual wing of conservatism also can’t seem to focus on what’s really at stake here:
The thing to remember going forward is that Republicans by and large will continue to defend Trump or insist that any idea put forth by Democrats is an insane Chicken Little episode. And they will continue to back him until it’s too late—until that moment, should it ever arrive, that Trump becomes too toxic to defend. Before his campaign started, virtually everything he’s said and done would have been too toxic for any other candidate, regardless of party, to defend. But not now. Republicans have power, and they will cravenly defend it no matter what. Like I said, it’s not much of a silver lining, but Trump being president and having nearly everything that could go wrong with the presidency of a narcissistic moron actually go wrong exposes Republicans for having no values.