Read this piece in Politico about the firing of FBI Director James Comey:
President Donald Trump weighed firing his FBI director for more than a week. When he finally pulled the trigger Tuesday afternoon, he didn’t call James Comey. He sent his longtime private security guard to deliver the termination letter in a manila folder to FBI headquarters.
He had grown enraged by the Russia investigation, two advisers said, frustrated by his inability to control the mushrooming narrative around Russia. He repeatedly asked aides why the Russia investigation wouldn’t disappear and demanded they speak out for him. He would sometimes scream at television clips about the probe, one adviser said.
Trump’s firing of the high-profile FBI director on the 110th day since taking office marked another sudden turn for an administration that has fired its acting attorney general, national security adviser and now its FBI director, who Trump had praised until recent weeks and even blew a kiss to during a January appearance.
The news stunned Comey, who saw his dismissal on TV while speaking inside the FBI office in Los Angeles. It startled all but the uppermost ring of White House advisers, who said grumbling about Comey hadn’t dominated their own morning senior staff meetings. Other top officials learned just before it happened and were unaware he was considering firing Comey. “Nobody really knew,” one senior White House official said. “Our phones all buzzed and people said, What?”
It sounds very much like Politico got people in the White House to say, flat out, that the firing was about quashing the Russia investigation. The most parsimonious assumption is that, in fact, the President fired his FBI director in an attempt to quash that investigation, and disloyal aides are trying to (a) protect themselves in the event of a Congressional investigation by preemptively saying that they had no idea this was coming, and (b) put Congress on the spot by making it abundantly clear that such an investigation is warranted. Is Congress really not going to do anything in response?
I suppose they might not. The Republican strategy so far seems to be to count on their voters either never believing their lying eyes, or on complete epistemic closure to prevent their voters from ever learning unpleasant news, or on being so convinced of the absolute evil of Team Blue that there is literally nothing that would make them change their mind about the lesser evil.
But consider the implications of the alternative assumption: that these anonymous aides and officials are exaggerating, confabulating or carefully communicating partial truths in order to maximally damage their boss. How on earth can a White House function in such an environment? When your staff is sufficiently disloyal that they are telling reporters that you are engaged in what amounts to obstruction of justice, how can you make policy of any kind?
I personally incline toward the parsimonious explanation. But for those who still want to give Trump the benefit of the doubt, I’m genuinely curious: even assuming you’re right, how much better is that really?