GOP should put America first

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The following editorial was published in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on May 29:

John Sirica was a Republican appointed to the bench by fellow Republican Dwight Eisenhower. Howard Baker was a Republican senator from Tennessee and the ranking Republican on the special Senate committee investigating the 1972 break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office building.

And yet when the critical time came, they put their country above politics and played key roles in the process that ended with the resignation of the presidency by Richard Nixon — Sirica as the judge who ordered the release of the White House tapes and Baker as the senator who demanded to know what did the president know and when did he know it.

No, President Donald Trump is not Nixon and the dismissal of FBI Director James B. Comey was not the Saturday Night Massacre.

But dismissing the head of the agency investigating allegations of ties between Russia and Trump’s campaign in the middle of that investigation was an abuse of power that demands condemnation from politicians on both sides of the aisle — not the sycophantic defense of Trump put up by House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

Not all Republicans are in that party-first mold: Mike Gallagher of Wisconsin and Arizona’s John McCain have at least raised serious questions about the dismissal.

The country needs more Republicans like Sirica, Baker, Gallagher and McCain. It also needs an independent investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia, preferably a special prosecutor appointed by Congress.

Only an outside investigation can carry the credibility that will earn the trust of the American people. This cannot be left in the hands of an FBI director chosen by Trump or Trump’s Justice Department.

Trump’s multiple explanations for the dismissal leave a smokescreen of obfuscation, and his Twitter threats against Comey reveal a mind that demands loyalty to Trump above all else.

The administration’s credibility is too full of holes to ever provide an answer that the American people will accept.

Only an independent investigation can do that. Only independent Republicans who put their country first can ensure such an investigation.