From Nicholas Kristof’s 5.13 N.Y. Times column, “Is President Trump Obstructing Justice?”

“In short, Trump challenges the legitimacy of checks on his governance, bullies critics and obfuscates everything. Trump reminds me less of past American presidents than of the ‘big men’ rulers I covered in Asia and Africa, who saw laws simply as instruments with which to punish rivals.

“It’s reported that Trump sought a pledge of loyalty from Comey. That is what kings seek; the failure to provide one got Thomas More beheaded. But in a nation of laws, we must be loyal to laws, norms and institutions, not to a passing autocrat.

“Trump acknowledges that he was frustrated by the Russia investigation and that it was a factor in firing Comey. This may not meet the legal test for obstruction of justice, but step back and you see that Trump’s entire pattern of behavior is obstruction of the rule of law and democratic norms.”

An imagined conversation between President Trump and former FBI director James Comey, supplied by N.Y. Times columnist Maureen Dowd:

Comey: “I am not your guy, Mr. President. I’m America’s guy. I can pledge my honesty to you.”

Trump: “Did it ever occur to you that your wacky, neurotic, dopey bouts of piety and vanity during the campaign broke F.B.I. rules and ruined your reputation? You’ll be lucky if I decide to let you stay.”

Comey: “I worry that you don’t have the slightest understanding of how our democracy works. Everyone thinks you’re off your rocker.”

Trump: “That’s funny, because I think there’s something off about you.”

Comey: “It makes me mildly nauseous to think I could have helped make you president.”

Trump: “You didn’t. I made myself president. Did you see the 1.5 million people at my inauguration? I have a picture of the crowd on the wall here. The dishonest press would never admit it. Now, James, I need you to eat your meatloaf and forget about this Russia thing with Trump. Russia is a made-up story — with a few exceptions. I need you to drop that goofy investigation and start priming the pump on investigating the leaks in your shop and in the C.I.A. that hurt Trump. You could also check the files on Ted Cruz’s dad and Lee Harvey Oswald while you’re at it.”

Comey: “But no one leaks more than you. You are your own Deep Throat. There have been rumors that you have been taping people since the ’80s. Are you taping this conversation?”