America’s Trump crisis is a crisis of partisan politics.
Paul Ryan, as speaker of the House of Representatives, is the leader of his party’s caucus in the lower chamber. He’s also a constitutional officer of the United States, with obligations to the Congress and the country that transcend party. Here is his take on former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony that President Donald Trump repeatedly sought to intervene in an ongoing criminal investigation in an inappropriate way: “He’s just new to this.” Ryan told reporters on Thursday that he “probably wasn’t steeped in long-running protocols.”
James Lankford, a senator from Oklahoma who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, described Trump’s intervention in the Flynn matter as a “light touch.”
Meanwhile, virtually every Republican celebrated the news that, at the time Comey was still in office, Trump was not personally under investigation from the FBI.
This is part of an ongoing process of Republicans lowering the bar for Trump’s statements and conduct in a way that is both nonsensical and dangerous. The president of the United States is not supposed to interfere in criminal investigations. There’s no “he only did it with a light touch” or “it was to help out a buddy, not himself personally” exemption to that rule. And “he’s too ignorant to know that was the rule” is an absurd excuse to make for a septuagenarian who also happens to be president of the United States.
Either he has the character, intellect, temperament, and disposition to do the job properly or he doesn’t.
The answer to that question is ultimately more political than legal, and Republicans are giving their misguided answer to it on a daily basis.