Over the last two years, there has been a near-constant watch for the thing that will finally doom Trump. Sexual assault allegations, mob ties, racial housing discrimination, the birther crap, “Mexicans are rapists,” “John McCain isn’t a war hero,” Trump University, the Trump Foundation charity scam, “blood coming out of her wherever,” the Muslim ban, “Miss Piggy,” the Access Hollywood tape, and, perhaps most important of all, his campaign’s extensive and highly questionable ties to Russia—all have been floated, at one time or another, as being potential causes of Trump’s undoing. And yet, with the exception of Russia, which continues to undermine his presidency, Trump has weathered every storm. The same 24-hour news cycle that makes these scandals quickly moves on and Trump, though more battered than before, does as well.
The firing of James Comey, though, might be different. The appointment of Robert Mueller as special counsel means that the Comey scandal will persist, likely for the rest of Trump’s first term. Given the shady dealings of Trump, his family members, and their associates over the years, it’s likely that Mueller’s investigation will uncover some damaging details, even if it does not ultimately show collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
Comey’s firing has unleashed a non-stop amount of blowback. Just this week, we learned that Trump discussed highly classified information with two Russian officials, jeopardizing America’s relationship with Israel and other allies. We learned that Comey kept records of his meetings with Trump, which appear to show the president trying to influence the FBI investigation into Michael Flynn. A few minutes before Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein announced that Mueller would be appointed special counsel, The Washington Post reported that during the 2016 election House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy had joked that Vladimir Putin pays Trump.
And after the Mueller announcement was made we learned three new pieces of damaging news: that there were at least 18 contacts between members of the Trump campaign and Russia in the seven months before the 2016 election; that Trump’s team knew Flynn was being investigated when he was appointed national security advisor; and that Flynn altered a military assault on Raqqa involving Kurdish soldiers, after being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars by the Turkish government. Weary Trump staffers are reportedly polishing their resumes, fed up with the constant state of crisis. Trump, meanwhile, is stuck in the shrieking paranoia of his own mind.
It is too soon to talk about impeachment. Republicans, whatever they are saying in private, are still only making tepid criticisms publicly. But the Comey fever has lasted for ten days now and it shows no sign of abating. Between Mueller’s appointment and the flood of leaks, it has already done colossal and irreparable damage to Trump’s presidency.