Donald Trump’s abrupt decision to fire FBI Director James Comey has predictably come under fire from Democrats, given considerable circumstantial evidence that it has something to do with his request for more money to look into the Russian effort to hack the election. But a number of Republicans also have concerns. As of Wednesday night, according to a running total of lawmaker reactions from The New York Times, 39 Republicans are on record as either wanting an investigation into the links between Trump’s inner circle and the Kremlin or having questions about Comey’s firing.
Well, at least one prominent Republican thinks that number should be a lot larger. In a scathing op-ed for the Old Gray Lady, a veteran Republican staffer who served under Reagan and both Bushes called for his party to denounce Comey’s firing in the strongest terms.
Peter Wehner, a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, a prominent social conservative think tank, minces no words–from where he’s sitting, Comey’s firing was “an abuse of power,” and his fellow Republicans need to denounce it as such. For one thing, Trump would have us believe that Comey was fired for the manner in which he handled the investigation of Hillary Clinton’s email server. However, Wehner finds that explanation “transparently false, even ludicrous,” given that Trump praised Comey’s decision to tell Congress that he was looking into potentially relevant emails a mere two weeks before Election Day.
What’s the real reason, then? Well, Wehner is willing to go out on a limb where few members of his party are willing to go–at least publicly.
“It does not require great detective skill to see that there is something else is going on here and that the something else involves the FBI’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russia.”
Seen in that light, Wehner is surprised that Comey wasn’t bounced sooner. After all, Comey told a Senate committee and a nationally televised audience that he could find no evidence to support Trump’s claims that he’d been wiretapped on orders from the Obama White House. At that same hearing, he made the first public acknowledgement that the FBI was looking into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia.
While a number of people have drawn parallels between Comey’s ouster and Nixon’s Saturday Night Massacre, Wehner believs that while it is one thing to fire a special prosecutor, it’s quite another to fire an FBI director. He also notes that Comey is the first FBI director to be fired “while the president’s associates and campaign aides were under investigation by the FBI.”
Wehner is somewhat inclined to be hard on Trump. After all, he was one of the charter members of the Never Trump club. However, he believes the manner in which Comey was fired confirmed many of the fears he expressed when Trump took office. He believes that his fellow Republicans need to see Comey’s ouster for what it is–the latest chapter in a “careless assault on our governing institutions.”
To those who have yet to denounce Comey’s firing and call for a closer look at the ties between Trump and the Kremlin, Wehner has a sobering warning.
“The Republicans who have so far stood in lock step with Mr. Trump, defending him at every turn, need to ask themselves whether they want to continue to be complicit in this institutional assault. By now it should be clear to them that having Donald Trump’s back will cost them their integrity.”
One would have expected such a brutal journalistic beatdown of Trump from a Republican–especially on the pages of a paper that Trump regularly describes as “failing”–would have gotten Wehner blasted as a “cuck” or worse. But surprisingly, the reaction on Twitter amounts to 140-character standing ovations. Here’s a sample.
— Matthew Clausen (@Matthewclausen) May 10, 2017
Peter Wehner, a conservative from EPPC, offers dire warnings, important concerns: Don’t Be Complicit, Republicans https://t.co/rt5lln5n7b
— Byron Borger (@byronborger) May 10, 2017
— Ray Glennon (@RayGlennon) May 10, 2017
— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) May 10, 2017
— Joel Searby (@Joel_Searby) May 10, 2017
Wehner’s column went live on Wednesday morning. As of Wednesday night, the reception on Twitter has been mostly positive, with hardly anyone calling Wehner a traitor, a “cuck,” or worse. Perhaps Comey’s firing has finally knocked scales off eyes. We can only hope.
(featured image courtesy Wehner’s Twitter)