Commentary
By Jim Wallis 5-12-2017

This week has been stunning. Every day there is more stark evidence of the White House lying, led by the president himself, and it is compromising the integrity of all the people around him. Direct lies and contradictions appear one after another. And when the president of the United States, and the people around him, including the vice president, are lying all the time, it puts the nation in grave danger. It suggests a cover up and makes thorough and fair investigations more important than ever. Unless the truth is found and told, this is a danger to democracy.

The president’s own words now, in front of cameras, demonstrate that he initiated the firing of FBI Director James Comey, not the deputy attorney general or the attorney general (who was supposed to have recused himself) — as the White House had said the day before. It’s now clear that the firing was about the investigation of the interference of the Russians in the American election, not the administration’s initial reasons regarding the bad handling of the Clinton e-mails.

It’s now also clear that the president asked for the loyalty of the FBI director, and didn’t get it, which led to his firing. That the broad and deep support for the FBI director within the FBI has also been verified against the White House claims to the contrary. The ongoing investigations into the collusion of Trump associates in the proven Russian efforts to turn an American election in their favor is clearly perceived by the president as a threat. Why? As always, the cover up of sins often becomes worse than the sins.

This is about the rule of Trump over the rule of law and the nation must make a choice. This president is not acting well and, because of his poor leadership, neither is the country; the health of the nation is at stake.

Nancy Gibbs, editor of TIME magazine, took her team into the White House for an interview with Donald Trump in the midst of this week’s amazing events. Gibbs has now summed up the situation well when she said in her editor’s note for this week’s issue:

The firing of FBI Director James Comey shook an already rattled body politic even more profoundly. At a moment of deep division and broad distrust, the machinery of justice matters more than ever — and when the Chief Executive monkeys with that machinery, well, that's why the founders built a Constitution that checks Executive power. We are learning in real time how resilient our institutions will be when facing, among other threats, a foreign power intent on undermining them.

Among those institutions is journalism itself, which the President blames for much of the animosity he faces … This occurs at a moment when news organizations have delivered crucial revelations, be they the conflicts of interest of top officials or the Russia connections of fired National Security Adviser Mike Flynn. Add to that the weaponization of information by foreign powers and the rise of hackers and bots and fake-news purveyors, and the path forward feels even more hazardous. During past political scandals and even constitutional crises, the messy, miraculous contraption of checks and balances and freedoms and duties constructed by the founders somehow carried us to safe, common ground. We are testing our instruments again, the world is watching, and as exhausting as the journey has been so far, it appears it is only just beginning.”

The integrity of the nation is at stake. In particular, the integrity of the Republicans is at stake because only they have the power to hold him accountable. And I believe the integrity of the faith community is at stake depending on whether we choose silence or resolve to speak the truth to power. Unless those Christian leaders who continue to support Trump now publicly ask for the truth to be told and speak against any lying attempts to cover up the truth, they will lose their credibility forever. We should all be watching.

It is time for us all to show our commitment to the truth, to the rule of law, and to democracy in any place where we have voice and influence — starting at our family dinner tables, our places of work, and our churches.

Jim Wallis is president of Sojourners. His book, America's Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America, is available now. Follow Jim on Twitter @JimWallis.

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