If Clin­ton did what Trump has done

The Hamilton Spectator - - OPINION -

This ap­peared in USA To­day:

Imag­ine what would have hap­pened had a Pres­i­dent Hil­lary Clin­ton abruptly fired the man over­see­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion of her cam­paign’s ties to a hos­tile for­eign gov­ern­ment.

Imag­ine if the fir­ing came, ac­cord­ing to The New York Times, weeks af­ter Clin­ton had asked the man to drop a probe of a close as­so­ciate who had lied about con­ver­sa­tions with that na­tion’s am­bas­sador.

Imag­ine, fur­ther, what would have hap­pened had she in­vited the am­bas­sador and for­eign min­is­ter of that hos­tile gov­ern­ment to the Oval Of­fice at the re­quest of their au­to­cratic leader, closed the meet­ing to U.S. jour­nal­ists, and claimed to have been tricked when the for­eign ad­ver­sary’s me­dia arm re­leased chummy pho­tos from the meet­ing.

And then imag­ine that she had used the meet­ing to share clas­si­fied in­tel­li­gence with the en­voys.

Repub­li­cans in Congress and con­ser­va­tive news out­lets would un­doubt­edly be clam­our­ing for in­ves­ti­ga­tions, if not im­peach­ment. Af­ter all, Clin­ton’s crit­ics spent years try­ing to make a cap­i­tal case out of the Beng­hazi tragedy, then pounded her care­less han­dling of sen­si­tive in­for­ma­tion through her use of a pri­vate server for State De­part­ment emails.

Now, many of those for­merly apoplec­tic Repub­li­cans are shrug­ging off Trump’s be­hav­iour — his cam­paign’s sus­pi­cious ties to the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment, his dis­missal of FBI di­rec­tor James Comey and his shar­ing of clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion with two high-level Rus­sian of­fi­cials — with only a mod­est sense of an­noy­ance.

Rather than try­ing to make ex­cuses for the pres­i­dent, Repub­li­cans should be pro­vid­ing lead­er­ship, stay­ing true to their oaths of of­fice, and serv­ing as cred­i­ble checks on Trump’s ex­cesses.

Even be­fore get­ting briefed on the lat­est out­rages, they should de­mand that the next FBI di­rec­tor be a non-par­ti­san ca­reer pro­fes­sional, not a politi­cian who could be co-opted by the ad­min­is­tra­tion.

It’s time for GOP law­mak­ers to de­mand more ac­count­abil­ity and more com­pe­tence from their pres­i­dent, whose suit­abil­ity for of­fice grows ever more ten­u­ous.

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