A Test of Our Integrity

Commentary
By Jim Wallis 5-10-2017
FILE PHOTO - FBI Director James Comey is sworn in to testify before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque/File Photo

As the country and world saw last night, without any warning or usual procedures, President Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. The only reason given for Comey’s firing was his treatment of Hillary Clinton’s e-mail case — which is laughable, given Trump’s own past statements and myriad contradictions on these matters, even if one agrees that Comey’s behavior and double standards in regard to that case were unprecedented and indefensible.

There is little doubt now that the real reason for Comey’s firing is that Trump was fearful of all the stories, testimonies, and facts coming out that seem to connect those around him with the Russians in their proven interference with the American election. Trump was increasingly aware that Comey was someone he could not control — and that is a problem for this president. Trump’s behavior is indicative of a man with things to hide, and he is clearly obsessed with any suggestion that his election was compromised.

Donald Trump’s firing of the FBI director investigating his campaign’s potential ties to Russia was just another attempt to quash that investigation.  Already Trump’s tweets and his administration’s spokespersons are attempting to do that — to call for an end to any and all investigations of Trump and his team’s relationships to an aggressive and adversarial foreign power in their attempt to sabotage American democracy in their political favor.

This is much more than partisan politics. This is a moral moment of integrity, a test of conscience, for the nation, especially for Republicans and all Trump voters and supporters — including the white evangelical leaders and the 81 percent of their followers who voted for Donald Trump. Will at least some of Trump’s voters and members of his party now stand up for truth, democracy, and the rule of law? Will they hold their new president accountable and affirm that nobody stands above the law in America?

Will they support a special prosecutor and independent commission to fully investigate all the facts, follow the facts to whatever conclusion they lead to, and take the necessary action in response to those conclusions?

Too many troubling facts have already been raised to end these investigations before they are completed. The American people need to know what the truth is here, what happened and what didn’t, what the relationship of American political campaigners was or was not to Russian political attackers, and how we can stop this from happening again. It is vital to the nation now that the truth be told.

Democrats and Trump resisters will, of course, be speaking out. But the moral question to watch is how many Republicans and Christians who supported Trump are ready — because of their moral conscience or faith — to stand up for the truth being found and told, for democracy being protected and preserved, and for the rule of law being upheld with the conviction that no one, even a sitting president, is above the law.

This is a moral test now that we all must be subject to. The clock is ticking.

Jim Wallis is president of Sojourners. His new Audible spoken-word series, Jim Wallis In Conversation, is available now, as is his book, America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.

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