Imagine that two years ago, you sequestered a jury of 12 Americans, kept them in a news-free zone, and brought them today to hear former FBI Director James Comey testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee. Chances are that all of them—no matter what their political beliefs—would be stunned and outraged.
From the perspective of one of these Americans, Comey dropped bombshell after bombshell: The Russians are mucking around in American democratic elections, trying to change how we think, how we act, how we vote—and they will be back. The attorney general cannot be trusted to ensure impartial enforcement of the law. The president fired the FBI director and then lied about why he did it. Yet by the time Comey said these things in an open hearing, all of it was old news. It should have been more shocking than it was, but on some level, Americans were used to it.
Some historical context here is important. Only one FBI Director has ever been fired since J. Edgar Hoover took the job back in 1924: William Sessions, who was sacked by President Bill Clinton in 1993 after the Justice Department's own Office of Professional Responsibility found so many severe ethical lapses, they filled a 161-page report. It included schemes to avoid paying taxes, using government funds to build an expensive home fence that actually reduced the security of the property, using FBI resources for personal purposes, and involving his wife, Alice, in bureau management in “entirely inappropriate” ways. Comey, by contrast, was fired by President Trump for doing his job. Big difference. One was miscarrying justice and abusing power; the other was carrying out justice and speaking truth to power.