Psaki: GOP Congress, don't just 'stand by your man'

McCain: I haven't seen good reason for firing
McCain: I haven't seen good reason for firing

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McCain: I haven't seen good reason for firing 01:50

Story highlights

  • Jen Psaki: Tammy Wynette sang "if you love him you'll forgive him,' but GOP must demand more from Trump after Comey firing
  • She says GOP leaders face test, must should boost funding for Russia inquiry, get to bottom or meddling in election

Jen Psaki, a CNN political commentator and spring fellow at the Georgetown Institute of Politics and Public Service, served as the White House communications director and State Department spokeswoman during the Obama administration. She has worked as a consultant for Planned Parenthood Federation of America. Follow her: @jrpsaki. The opinions expressed in this commentary are hers.

(CNN)There is an old Tammy Wynette song -- a lament: "You'll have bad times. And he'll have good times. Doin' things that you don't understand. But if you love him you'll forgive him. Even though he's hard to understand."

That song may be about a woman scorned. But it may as well be printed on a palm card by Trump loyalists and handed out at Metro stations to members of Congress trying to figure out what on earth they should do from here.
Jen Psaki
As the dust settles from the shock of the Tuesday night firing of James Comey, three things are clear.
    1. The White House spin -- that Donald Trump fired his FBI director because of his handling of the Clinton investigation, and not because there is an ongoing investigation into whether Vladimir Putin helped Trump's associates swing the election in Trump's favor -- is laughable.
    2. The deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein, was used (my bet unwittingly) to provide political cover for the firing and to provide a justification for its timing. The question now is whether he can untangle himself from his current role as political pawn.
    3. Republicans in Congress, many who did not support Trump, and who have expressed concerns about his ties to Russia, are in a pickle.
    Now what?
    Aside from a handful of heads-up calls, most were shocked by the news of Comey's firing. And while some, like John McCain, responded appropriately by reiterating his call for an independent special prosecutor, the majority of Republicans have either defended the decision or offered milquetoast criticism -- like Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker's statement of the obvious: that Comey's "removal at this particular time will raise questions."
    But they have another chance. The next few weeks will be a test of character and a test of leadership for congressional Republicans.
    Indeed, the real question now is: Why would they stand by their man?
    Even the Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee tweeted Wednesday morning that, "His dismissal further confuses an already difficult investigation by the Committee."
    The substance is pretty clear-cut. Either you believe that Russia meddled in the election, as was confirmed by every national security agency, or you don't. Either you believe that getting to the bottom of what happened is in America' national interest, or you don't.
    Bachmann: Zero evidence of Russia collusion
    Michele Bachmann on Comey Firing nr SOT_00003108

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    If you believe these things, and additionally want to determine who was involved, and what the government should do to address it -- there is no reason you would not support an independent counsel.
    Now, Democrats can't will this to happen by sheer number of retweets or by the activism of citizens. The attorney general -- or actually the deputy attorney general, given AG Jeff Sessions' recusal -- would need to appoint such a counsel.
    Under current law, that person would report to the attorney general. To change that, Congress would need to renew the independent counsel law, which expired in 1999. That is hard to do. But the recognition by statesmen and stateswomen of both parties that it is the better path forward makes it a lot more likely.
    What else can Congress do?
    They can grant the FBI the additional funding for the Russia inquiry that Comey requested in the days leading up to his firing.
    Tapper: The real reasons Trump fired Comey
    Tapper: The real reasons Trump fired Comey

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    Tapper: The real reasons Trump fired Comey 03:23
    They can ensure the Senate Committee, led by Senators Mark Warner and Richard Burr, is staffed to the gills with lawyers and intelligence experts who can quickly and accurately comb through interviews and transcripts and information provided.
    They can also support an independent commission. Though if history teaches us anything, this type of commission can be stacked with White House and Republican appointees, given that each party, but also the White House, will be able to appoint members. It would still be a step in the right direction.
    Leaders are not judged by whether they fight the hardest for the side they have always been on, but whether they have the courage to stand up for something bigger than party, bigger than the president. And getting to the bottom of the Russia's meddling in our democracy should rise to that level
    But Donald Trump's firing of James Comey made that a lot more difficult. Now members of Congress will be tested: Will they use wisely the power of their branch of government? We will see who meets the moment.