May 11 2017

Pondering the Pundits

“Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from> around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

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Trevor Timm: Someone remind Donald Trump he is not above the law

There are so many shocking aspects to Donald Trump’s abrupt firing of the FBI director, James Comey, it’s almost hard to put into words, but one facet sticks out above all else: Trump has essentially declared that the president is above the law, and Americans of all political stripes should be incredibly disturbed by that thought.

I have harshly criticized James Comey in the pages of the Guardian almost too many times to count, but no matter one’s views of Comey’s positions, the fact that the president can suddenly fire the FBI director who is currently investigating him means that the president quite literally considers himself immune from accountability. As John Cassidy of the New Yorker wrote, “It amounts to a premeditated and terrifying attack on the American system of government.”

It’s hard to tell what’s worse: that Trump thinks he can get away with it, or the fact that the justice department and his White House are so nakedly hiding the true reason for Comey’s firing.

Russ Feingold: Donald Trump acts like an illegitimate president for a reason

The American people did not really choose Donald Trump. His presidency exists without the support of the majority of voters and, in turn, without a true mandate from the American people. Trump walks and talks instead like an authoritarian, and seems to believe he is above the people and the law, and need not answer to either. He wants to be untouchable. He behaves with impunity and acts as if legal standards like obstruction of justice don’t apply to him.

Firing the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, James Comey, demonstrates a whole new level of defiance of the rule of law and our foundational system of checks and balances. More bluntly, it proves just how dangerous an illegitimate president is to our democracy. His actions do not only undermine the legitimacy and credibility of his presidency; they are a direct threat to our constitutionalism and our democratic legitimacy.

Charles M. Blow: Trump Is Insulting Our Intelligence

I feel as if we are being conditioned to chaos by a “president” who abhors the stillness of stability. Every day we awake to a new outrage. We now exist in a rolling trauma — exhausting and unrelenting.

Yet even in that context, some things spike higher than others. Donald Trump’s firing of the F.B.I. director, James Comey, is one of those things. This should shock the whole of America out of its numbness.

This is outrageous and without precedent, unless of course we count (as many have) the 1973 Saturday Night Massacre in which “President Richard M. Nixon ordered the firing of Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor looking into the so-called third-rate burglary that would eventually bring Nixon down,” as The New York Times put it.

But Cox was just a special prosecutor; Comey was head of the F.B.I.

David Leonhardt: Rod Rosenstein Fails His Ethics Test

Until two days ago, Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general, had an enviable reputation as a straight-shooting law-enforcement official respected by members of both parties. Then he decided that he was willing to help President Trump tamper with an investigation into his presidential campaign.

Now Rosenstein’s reputation is permanently damaged, as it deserves to be. In that damage is a lesson for other subordinates and allies of Trump.

When Rosenstein accepted his job at the Justice Department, many observers hoped he would be the adult who would moderate the excesses of Trump and Jeff Sessions, the attorney general. But it is enormously difficult to resist pressure, persuasion and incentives from one’s bosses, especially when those bosses are running the country.

Rosenstein’s moral test arrived after just a couple of weeks on the job. He failed it, evidently without putting up much of a struggle.

Jill Abramson: Firing Comey won’t save Trump from the flames of the Russia scandal

We know that President Trump has a stunning ignorance of history. He recently flubbed the basics of the causes of the civil war and seemed to think the famous abolitionist Frederick Douglass was still alive and had “done an amazing job”. It’s certainly possible that President Trump doesn’t know the lessons of Watergate.

The most famous lesson is that the cover-up is always worse than the crime.

We don’t yet know the full story of Russia’s meddling in the election, but the abrupt firing of the FBI director, who was leading an investigation into possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign, certainly reeks of a cover-up.

“This is Nixonian” was the reaction of Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, to the news that President Trump had fired FBI director James Comey.

Casey, echoed by fellow Democrats, was referring to the infamous Saturday Night Massacre, when President Richard Nixon fired the special prosecutor and attorney general who were leading the Watergate investigation. The massacre did not derail the probe. It only fueled calls for Nixon’s impeachment.