The GOP has gone all in on attacking law enforcement and the people working to prevent another 9/11, just to shield Donald Trump from investigation.
The Republican Party has collectively turned its back on the men and women on the front lines of America’s fight against crime and terrorism, just to defend Donald Trump’s failing presidency.
The turning point was the reckless decision to release California Rep. Devin Nunes’ smear-filled memo, which attacked the FBI via lies, omissions of fact, and deception. The ultimate decision to release the memo was made by Trump, but along the way elements of the party and wider conservative movement all had a hand in stabbing law enforcement in the back.
The right’s media arm, most noticeably Fox News, incubated the paranoia and conspiratorial thinking that led to the attack, whipping up absurd ideas about the “deep state” and the “secret society” that fed lines to Republican politicians.
Led by Trump, Republicans went all in on echoing Fox News and the most fevered swamps of American political discourse. Trump “told confidants in recent days that he believed the memo would validate his concerns that the ‘deep state’ … had conspired to undermine the legitimacy of his presidency.”
The Washington Post noted, “The FBI, the Justice Department and other agencies are now under concerted assault by party leaders and activists, facing allegations of corruption and conspiracy that have quickly moved from the fringes of the right into the mainstream of the GOP.”
The New York Times also noticed that Trump is engaged in an “unparalleled war on a pillar of society,” adding, “The war between the president and the nations law enforcement apparatus is unlike anything America has seen in modern times.”
Why would Republicans go along with this idea? For the same reason Trump has: to deflect attention from the ongoing investigation into his campaign’s work with Russian operatives.
Many rank and file Republicans have now turned against the FBI, because Trump, enabled by congressional Republicans and leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan, have said they should. Indeed, Ryan made a call to “cleanse” the FBI.
This party-wide assault on law enforcement is an echo of the Republican Party’s decision to go all in for pedophilia during the Alabama Senate race in 2017, which led to a Democrat winning the race for the first time in decades.
The decision to hang law enforcement out to dry, after Trump ran a campaign proclaiming himself to be the “law and order” candidate, may have even more toxic fallout.
Veteran FBI agent Josh Campbell quit the agency and penned an op-ed in the New York Times warning that Trump could “destroy the institution” in his zeal to defend himself.
But Trump cannot do this on his own. He needs other Republicans to help him and by all appearances, they are ready and willing to do so.
Along with Nunes and Ryan, figures like Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX), among others, are aiding and abetting the internal fight. They have allied the legislative and executive branches in a battle against crime fighters who expect support, not to be undermined.
Mike Pence is also fully engaged in this disruptive campaign, not shying away from lending support to Trump’s crusade. In an interview with a Pittsburgh TV station, after the memo had been released and almost instaneously debunked, Pence was spouting the party line against the FBI.
He refused to directly express support for FBI director Christopher Wray or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein (a target of the right). Instead Pence told a reporter that “our administration believes the memo raises serious concerns about the integrity of decisions that were made at the top of the highest level at the top of the Department of Justice and the FBI.”
Joshua Geltzer, a former national security lawyer in the Justice Department, told the New York Times he left after the attacks from the right because he could “serve the public interest and carry out public service better and more effectively from outside.”
Sharon McGowan, who was a deputy chief in the Civil Rights Division, said people inside the department are “starting to get worried” after first simply being skeptical of Trump-era leadership.
The Washington Post reported that officials within the FBI say the Republican attacks “corrode the agencys ability to remain independent and do its job.”
It bears repeating that agencies like the FBI not only deal with thousands of domestic crimes, but are also on the front lines in defending America and its allies from international terrorists. These groups desperately wish to duplicate or exceed the carnage of events like 9/11. They do not need nor should they be given any help as a byproduct of an effort to boost the political fortunes of the Republican Party.
But by their actions and words, from Trump to Ryan and further down the chain of command, Republicans have made it plain they do not stand with law enforcement, and that they are not going to give them support.
Their loyalty is to Trump, not to the safety of America or its people.