But Wray’s case is different. It’s not just that the release of the memo is a personal slight against him; it’s part of a broader, systematic campaign against the credibility and integrity of the very agency that he runs. And importantly, this agency’s credibility and integrity are cornerstones of our legal system. Wray shouldn’t resign because he himself has been slighted, or because he has been ordered to do something he believes to be unlawful or immoral; he should resign because of the institutional affront that the release of the memo reflects — a partisan political assault on the apolitical work in which tens of thousands of men and women are engaged on a daily basis. Adding insult to injury, these men and women under his leadership are generally not in a position to speak out for themselves.
Simply put, when the president chooses, for partisan political reasons, to override the recommendation of his own FBI director and pursue a course of action that could damage our national security (to say nothing of the FBI’s reputation), resignation is the most ethically appropriate and politically impactful means of registering protest, rather than acquiescing.