Staying silent may backfire spectacularly on Republican lawmakers

So Trump is likely to adopt a self-defense based on huge assertions of arbitrary power. “A president cannot obstruct justice through the exercise of his constitutional and discretionary authority over executive-branch officials like Mr. Comey.” Those words appeared in a Wall Street Journal op-ed posted Sunday afternoon by two well-known Republican lawyers. They are about to become the official White House position—and when they do, you’ll find yourself with little maneuvering room to prevent them from becoming your position as well. You will have to haul that position along with you into the 2018 elections, or (even more dangerously) the elections in 2020 or 2022, by which time even more of this scandal will have come to light.

You need to wonder whether the avoidance of blowback from Fox News in November 2017 is worth the risks hurtling at you in the weeks ahead. The Trump administration’s authoritarian moment is on the verge of materializing. The president seems likely to openly stake a claim to use his position as head of the executive branch to exempt himself from all law enforcement. If the president can never obstruct justice, he can use the pardon power to protect himself and his associates from any investigation into criminal wrongdoing.