Democratic Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) speaks to the media about President Trump’s leak of classified information to the Russians, in the U.S. Capitol on Tuesday. (Jim Lo Scalzo/European Pressphoto Agency)
Democrats were at the barricades over the conduct and policies of President Trump long before the blockbuster developments of the past week. One question now is whether they can step back enough to let events play out slowly, deliberately and without prejudice, whatever the ultimate outcome.
With the revelation that fired FBI director James B. Comey has notes of a Feb. 14 meeting in which the president urged him to back off the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn, there is an urgent need to find out exactly what happened between the two men who are now adversaries in what has quickly come to resemble a Shakespearean tale.
In today’s overheated political and media environments, there is an almost irresistible desire to reach conclusions long before all the evidence is in. That cottage industry is in overdrive, as anyone absorbing the commentary on cable news or trying to keep up with the ever-scrolling tweets is aware. It’s far easier to spin forward with speculation than to wait patiently for the investigative machinery to catch up.
Trump’s presidency was already in trouble before the New York Times hurled the Comey memo story into the public domain. Now the president and the White House are under siege. But just how much trouble, and what the consequences will be, can’t be known.
Investigations of presidential administrations are always political as well as legal, and it is the political aspect of this that presents Democrats with some hard choices. It’s been clear since the day after the inauguration, when streets around the country and the world were filled with demonstrators registering their disapproval of the new president, that the Democratic Party is being led from the bottom up.
Any sense that congressional leaders or former presidents or former or prospective presidential candidates are directing the opposition is misplaced. The leaders are following the people and have been for months. But these leaders nonetheless must make strategic decisions and render judgments about how to proceed in the face of multiple investigations with multiple strands off the president, his administration, his campaign and his past business record.
Everything looks simple and obvious…