Everything I’m about to write is obvious. But contesting things formerly considered obvious is part of what Donald Trump and his supporters do. It’s how they undermine pre-existing liberal democratic norms. So here goes.
When Trump (in three separate tweets), Fox News and National Review call Democrats hypocrites for condemning Trump’s decision to fire James Comey after having criticized his stewardship of the FBI, they’re wrong.
First, criticizing Comey doesn’t necessarily mean you want him fired. In order to investigate crimes irrespective of the political fallout, FBI directors are supposed to enjoy a high degree of independence from the presidents under whom they serve. That’s why their terms are 10 years long. It’s why only one FBI director has been fired—for egregious misconduct recognized as such across the aisle—since the bureau was created. And it’s why most congressional Democrats did not propose firing Comey even though they believe he gravely mishandled the investigation into Hillary Clinton’s emails. Because they respect the integrity of the office even if they’re not fans of the man who holds it.
Second, criticizing Comey—and even believing he committed errors serious enough to warrant firing—doesn’t mean you want him fired under present circumstances. It doesn’t mean you want him fired for investigating the Trump campaign’s collusion with Russia, which is what Trump appears to have done.