Since the firing of James Comey by Donald Trump, there has been a fairly consistent talking point among the right leaning pundits and internet denizens of the world wherein they find someone’s outraged tweets calling for Comey’s head after the election and put them beside their recent outraged tweets concerning Comey’s dismissal. Essentially, they feel like it’s checkmate liberals. However, this is another case where we as a society sorely need nuance, god rest his soul.
How can liberals suddenly switch their thoughts on Comey when just a week ago they seemed to hate Comey for his election swinging letter? This is a situation where one can hold complicated views that seem contradictory at first, but are actually coherent.
Feeling outraged that Comey chose to send the fateful letter to congress about reopening the Clinton email investigation and feeling outraged that Trump would dismiss the person at the head of an investigation against him are two different mental swim lanes. Concern about Trump’s removal of someone investigating him, with the idea that he’ll try to jam a loyalist into his position is possible to feel no matter how you feel about the person being removed. It’s an egregious overstep of decorum and restraint of power. If there’s one thing that Trump has proven to the US, it’s the fact that we rely far too heavily on social norms with regards to executive restraint.
There does seem to be a sizable portion of the left-leaning internet population who have reversed position on Comey and now think he’s a patriot who was doing the right thing by investigating Trump. It is possible that given time and distance from the election, one’s thoughts on Comey can change. It’s possible to think that he’s flawed, but did what he felt was right in a given situation. Most likely, Comey’s spot at the center of this mess leaves people with an opinion about him that corresponds to the last person he’s pursued.
For what it’s worth, my opinion was that Comey thought the letter he was sending to Congress wouldn’t swing the election as much as it did, Trump would lose, and Comey would have covered the FBI and kept it from seeming to cover up reopening the email investigation. My guess is that the scenario he saw playing out was congressional hearings wherein the GOP dragged him in to investigate his actions regarding the Clinton email scandal. Comey had to think Clinton would win and that the GOP would continue their show trials for as long as they could. He probably wanted to be able to show clean hands if such a thing happened.
Trump has subsequently gone on the record and completely contradicted the White House talking points regarding the dismissal. He’s also said that he directly called Comey and asked if he was being investigated prior to dismissing him. Even if you hate James Comey with the burning passion of a thousand suns, this is alarming abuse of power from the Trump administration.