We find it hard to decide which is more stunning — a president who decides to fire the FBI director to squelch an investigation into his own wrongdoing, or the White House’s stunning conviction that its ham-handed scheming would not be discovered.

Over the past day, we have learned:

  • Former FBI director James B. Comey had requested more resources to pursue the Russia investigation.
  • The pace of the investigation was “accelerating.”
  • Comey was receiving daily updates as potential evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials mounted. (The Wall Street Journal reported: “Mr. Comey started receiving daily instead of weekly updates on the investigation, beginning at least three weeks ago, according to people with knowledge of the matter and the progress of the Federal Bureau of Investigation probe. Mr. Comey was concerned by information showing potential evidence of collusion, according to these people.”)
  • Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein threatened to quit because the White House was falsely pinning the decision to fire Comey on him. (The Post reported, “Rosenstein threatened to resign after the narrative emerging from the White House on Tuesday evening cast him as a prime mover of the decision to fire Comey and that the president acted only on his recommendation, said [a] person close to the White House, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.”)
  • President Trump’s obvious lie — that Comey had told him three times he was not under investigation — has been called out as “farcical” by former Comey associates. On March 20, Comey testified, “I have been authorized by the Department of Justice to confirm that the FBI, as part out our counterintelligence mission, is investigating the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election and that includes investigating the nature of any links between individuals associated with the Trump campaign and the Russian government, and whether there was any coordination between the campaign and Russia’s efforts.” The president has been known to exaggerate and/or entirely make up statements purportedly made to him in private, but this one never passed the laugh test.

One wonders when conservative media outlets and Republicans such as House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) will stop the frantic effort to avert their eyes from the inescapable picture of a president furious that he could neither sidetrack the FBI director with his ludicrous accusation of “wiretapping” nor slow down his pursuit of evidence of wrongdoing.

The Washington Post’s Ruth Marcus explains how FBI Director James Comey’s firing is a big deal, yet not quite “Nixonian.” (Adriana Usero/The Washington Post)

Every GOP lawmaker should be pushed to answer a simple question: If the president fired Comey to slow down the Russia investigation and concocted a cover story that included sending out the vice president and others to lie, would you consider that an impeachable offense? If the answer is no, then they approve — when it’s their man in the Oval Office — subversion of our justice system. (This would be as if Republicans in 1974 shrugged their shoulders upon hearing the tape of President Richard Nixon’s approving use of the CIA to clamp down on the FBI. Here, Trump didn’t bother with a middleman, but rather, fired the FBI director himself in plain sight.)

One therefore can see why Republicans comically — and pathetically — are straining to ignore the mounds of evidence piling up. Perhaps they will never concede the obvious, namely, “Trump was frustrated when Comey revealed in Senate testimony the breadth of the counterintelligence investigation into Russia’s effort to sway the 2016 U.S. presidential election. And he fumed that Comey was giving too much attention to the Russia probe and not enough to investigating leaks to journalists.”

When one party acts in ways the public finds irresponsible and repugnant, it generally does not hold on to power. Unless the GOP resolves this mess and shows that it can tell fact from fiction, right from wrong, 2018 is likely to be a bloodbath.