Nor'mâl īze. (v.t.) to make normal; to bring into conformity with a standard, pattern, model, etc.
President Donald Trump has normalized behavior that in any other age would appall the American public, but all we get from his supporters is a shoulder shrug. However, he may have hit the tipping point last week. With the firing of FBI Director James Comey, Trump has attempted to normalize the manipulation of the American legal system. Openly criticizing judges who ruled against his unconstitutional executive orders is one thing, but compromising the independent investigative powers of the FBI is beyond the pale. If the dismissal had happened after the election, Democrats would have rejoiced. But Comey was fired in the midst of the bureau's investigation into collusion between the Trump election campaign and Vladimir Putin's Russia, and supposedly after the director asked for more resources.
Trump revealed his motive for the firing during an NBC News interview when he said it was his idea because he was tired of hearing about the "Russia thing." Then, to make matters worse, he foolishly tampered with a potential witness' testimony by threatening Comey with a recording of a recent dinner conversation he had with him if details of it continued to be leaked to the press.
What will it take for We the People to rise up and fully comprehend this threat to our republic from a megalomaniac autocrat and an unfriendly alien power with proven designs to disrupt and corrode our democratic processes? Even loyal GOPers have to admit that there is just too much smoke for there not to be fire. What are Republican legislators afraid of? Losing control of their agenda? Is that more important than national security and the integrity of our election system? It is imperative that the special prosecutor appointed on Wednesday by the Justice Department get to the bottom of this.
Even so, I fear we can no longer rely on our elected members of Congress to help. Don't forget that the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee and chief investigator into Russian mischief, Rep. Devin Nunes, a California Republican, was forced to step aside because he was caught sharing evidence with the White House before he presented it to his fellow committee members.
And don't look to the Senate. When it questioned former acting attorney general Sally Yates, members focused more on leaks and the unmasking of former National Security adviser Gen. Michael Flynn than on his acceptance of $68,000 in fees and expenses from Russian state-sponsored media and other related entities, including a cybersecurity firm. More amazingly, even though Flynn had been on the Russian payroll, he was allowed to attend the highest level national security meetings. This was despite the fact that Yates and former President Obama had warned Trump not to trust him.
We also now know that on Feb. 14 Trump asked Comey to end the investigation of Flynn. Comey detailed the conversation in a memo that an associate has shared with The New York Times. This is obstruction of justice plain and simple, but Republicans are none too eager to probe into this steaming pile of lies and subterfuge. They just want it all to go away.
Deputy White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said last week regarding investigations into Russian meddling that "There is no 'there' there. It's time to move on." We can't let that happen.
The morning after Trump fired Comey, he met with Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak at the suggestion of Putin. Yes, that Kislyak — the one whom Flynn had secret meetings with after the election when Obama announced sanctions against Russia for meddling. Tellingly, the White House declared the event to be closed to all press except TASS, a Russian state media organization. What's more, Trump is purported to have revealed highly classified information about ISIS to the duo, jeopardizing a critical intelligence source.
Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat from Connecticut, told the Huffington Post, "None of this is anywhere close to normal. ... This country has never been through this and it is getting more bizarre and more troubling every single day. At some point Republicans have to pull the plug and say, 'Enough is enough, this is a real threat to democratic norms.'"
Norms. Normalcy. When people accept behavior that borders on treason, we have a nation at risk. This is not going to end well for Trump or for us.
Frank Batavick writes from Westminster. His column appears Fridays. Email him at email@example.com.