The ostensible reason for firing James Comey on May 9, 2017, was his handling of Hillary Clinton’s emails in July 2016 and October 2016, which President Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) had praised. One need not go any further than that to conclude Trump’s cover story makes no sense whatsoever. But don’t take my word for it. Consider what Trump himself has said.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) recalled today at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing that Trump told her he was firing Comey because the department was “a mess.” That doesn’t comport with the reasons outlined in Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein’s letter. (She also added another nugget: On March 15, Comey gave a very thorough briefing behind closed doors to the committee. She said it was very detailed and showed that “the FBI was taking its job seriously.”)

In brief remarks at the Oval Office today, Trump told reporters essentially the same thing. He fired Comey, he said, because he “wasn’t doing a good job.” That’s also at odds with the Rosenstein memo. It begs the question as to what about his performance is wrong — his refusal to investigate wiretapping? His persistent Russia inquiry and, as we learned today, his request for more resources for the probe? (The Post reports, “Last week, then-FBI Director James B. Comey requested more resources from the Justice Department for his bureau’s investigation into collusion between the Trump campaign and the Russian government, according to two officials with knowledge of the discussion.” A Justice Department spokesperson denied the claim.)

Then there is a news report that on Monday, Trump asked Rosenstein to draft a memo to fire Comey. If true, this blows the cover story advanced by press secretary Sean Spicer and Vice President Mike Pence that this was all initiated by Rosenstein.

Senate and House Republicans might want to consider a few factors before blindly leaping to defend the president, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) did. Interestingly, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) has been silent, but two GOP members spoke out.

First, freshman Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-Wis.) tweeted, “Like many Americans, I have serious concerns and unanswered questions about the timing of Director Comey’s dismissal.” He went on in a series of tweets: “This goes for my colleagues on both sides of the aisle. The American people deserve the truth, not politically-driven talking points.” And then this: “We must put the sanctity of our democracy far, far above partisan interest.”

Then there was Rep. Barbara Comstock (Va.), a Republican whose seat is at risk in 2018 and who was smart enough to vote against the disastrous American Health Care Act. The Post reports:

“The FBI investigation into the Russian impact on the 2016 election must continue. There must be an independent investigation that the American people can trust,” Comstock said in a statement released shortly after midnight Tuesday.
Comstock previously said she supported investigations by the House and Senate intelligence committees, but did not endorse the creation of an independent commission with subpoena power. She served as director of public affairs for the U.S. Department of Justice under John Ashcroft.
“Both Democrats and Republicans attacked the FBI Director at various times for various reasons and called for his ouster. However, I can’t defend or explain tonight’s actions or timing of the firing of FBI Director James Comey,” she said in the statement.

No other Republican should defend or explain it, either. In the special election for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, Democrat Jon Ossoff tweeted Tuesday night: “Comey’s firing raises severe questions. There should be bipartisan support for a special prosecutor to investigate Russian interference.” Republican Karen Handel dutifully raises no red flags and seems to think nothing is amiss. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, she said, “It’s been clear for some time that FBI Director Comey has lost the confidence of Republicans, Democrats and broader institutions, and his removal as FBI Director was probably overdue. I hope that the president will quickly nominate a strong, independent leader as the next director of the FBI and that the Senate will consider the nomination as quickly as possible.” That’s a stark choice for the voters of the GA-6, as it will be in 2018 for residents of every congressional district, some of whom also have a Senate race.

Do voters want patsies for Trump in Congress or independent representatives to hold Trump accountable? I think Gallagher had it right: “We cannot afford any lingering questions. The legitimacy of our democracy and the sanctity of the rule of law is too important.” Now there is a Republican who gets it.