The country is obviously better off if James Comey is replaced as FBI director by someone who is good at running the FBI — it's a large and important government agency that carries out many crucial functions.
But in terms of the immediate obstruction of justice crisis kicked off by President Donald Trump's decision to fire Comey, it's important to be clear. Choosing a new FBI director, no matter how well-qualified or how sterling his reputation for independence and integrity, doesn't fix the problem. The problem is that the president can, legally speaking, fire the FBI director if he wants to. And he just fired the FBI director for pursuing investigations into the president's ties to Russia with excessive rigor.
For Senate Republicans, the idea of the Good Comey Replacement serves a critical psychological and political role. It allows them to acknowledge that there was something alarming and suspicious about Comey's dismissal without committing them to a fight with the Trump administration. They simply need to convince the White House to nominate someone well-qualified and then move on to cutting taxes.
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Trump has now admitted he fired Comey because of the Russia investigation
Trump is threatening to release secret Comey "tapes" and cancel press briefings
Trump just picked a fight with the FBI. The FBI can punch back — hard.
But the Comey firing bell can't be unrung. The independence of the FBI is now inherently compromised. And faced with a White House that's willing to violate the norms governing presidential involvement in the investigative process, either there will be the forceful pushback from the legislative branch that most Republicans want to avoid or else oversight of the Trump administration will be woefully lacking. There's no middle path.