It is so easy to get wrapped up in just how abnormal everything about our government is right now. And it's just as hard to believe that the insanity has only been going on for 112 days. I already feel like I need to go full Guy Pearce in Memento and start tattooing myself with messages reminding me that we have had presidents in this country that spoke in complete sentences, took steps to avoid financial conflicts of interest, and weren't constantly attempting to undermine our democracy.
Trying to hold on to the idea of what our country should be is the ultimate Sisyphean task. And the latest thing that sent the rock tumbling back down the hill was Trump firing the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
Let's get one thing out of the way right off the bat: I was not a fan of now-former FBI director James Comey. Many Democrats and progressives had serious issues with the man, not the least of which was his blatant interference in the final days of the 2016 presidential election. When it became clear that Comey had released his damaging letter about Hillary Clinton while simultaneously sitting on information regarding the Bureau's investigation of Russia's electoral meddling, many on the left were calling for his head. He showed a serious lack of judgment.
And none of that in any way contradicts the outrage being expressed about Comey's abrupt termination on Tuesday night.
Republicans, from the president himself down to the lowliest tweeter, are crying foul at Democrats expressing anger over Comey's firing after complaining about how he handled the election. What they don't seem to grasp is that we can dislike how the man performed his job while also being gravely concerned by the fact that the president has just fired the man overseeing the closest thing we have to an independent investigation into Trump, Russia, and collusion between the two.
In an abnormal administration, this was easily the least normal thing Trump has done. FBI directors don't get fired; it's not something they can claim "every president does," like dismissing US attorneys. Before Comey, the only other FBI director to be dismissed in the 82-year history of the Bureau was William Sessions, who was given the boot by Bill Clinton in 1993 after numerous allegations of ethical improprieties, including using an FBI plane to visit his daughter and charging a new home security system to the government. There's really no comparison between the two situations; while Comey may have exhibited bad judgment, he didn't act illegally, and Sessions was not actively investigating Clinton or his administration at the time of his dismissal.
As if the actual firing wasn't insane enough, the way that Trump and his White House have handled the fallout of this news has been a clusterfuck of monumental proportions. The initial story was that Trump made the decision to sack Comey after receiving memos from Attorney General Jeff "I liked the KKK until I learned they smoked weed" Sessions and Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein criticizing Comey for his handling of the Clinton e-mail situation during the 2016 election. That set off the BS sensors immediately, both because Trump had previously praised Comey for how he dealt with that issue and due to the fact that the FBI's Russia investigation was clearly heating up (hours after Comey was fired, news broke that grand jury subpoenas were being issued for Mike Flynn and his associates). But still, it was an explanation, with documentation and everything. Like a Jenga tower made of dried cow droppings, it didn't smell right and wouldn't stand up perfectly straight, but it wasn't the least stable thing anyone had ever seen. If they had just run with that, chances are the furor would have eventually died down.
So it was quite a thing to watch the NBC News interview in which the president personally kicked over that bullshit tower, set it on fire, and then poured a bottle of Trump vodka on the blaze.
In his conversation with Lester Holt, the Groper-in-Chief said that he had been planning to fire Comey and was going to do so "regardless of recommendation." Trump continued by explaining that, "when I decided to [fire Comey], I said to myself, I said you know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made up story."
What you just read is the President of the United States admitting that he fired the head of the FBI because he disapproved of the ongoing investigation into his ties with Russia and the alleged collusion around the 2016 election. Not only did he contradict his own administration's story about why Comey was fired, he did so while admitting to something that could absolutely be construed as obstruction of justice.
The most frustrating part of the whole mess is that nothing is likely to come out of it, at least in the short term. The Republicans in Congress have shown no interest in doing anything about the Comey firing or anything else insane and potentially illegal Trump does; after all, that would just distract them from making gigantic cuts to Medicaid!
But just think if the tables were turned. Can you imagine what a GOP majority in Congress would be doing if President Clinton had explained firing the head of the FBI because "I said to myself, this thing with Clinton and e-mails is a made-up story?" Congress would look like the scene in Airplane in which Julie Hagerty asks if there's anyone onboard who can fly the plane. Paul Ryan would be so excited to get an impeachment vote on the floor that he might even skip his evening prayer (in which he kneels on a gigantic rug covered in the complete text of Atlas Shrugged while facing in the direction of Ayn Rand's grave).
But because the GOP isn't in the habit of putting country before party, we just have to watch as the con man in the White House continues to degrade the office of the presidency. But while we watch, we must continue to resist. We need to keep going to town halls and letting our representatives know that we are watching and we will remember. And in 2018, we need to prove it.
Speaking of remembering, please excuse me while I go get "Trump Is Different" tattooed on my chest.