In another indication that a significant portion of the Republican Party is comfortable with authoritarian tactics, Republican Representative Francis Rooney of Florida told MSNBC on Tuesday that he supported a “purge” of the FBI and Department of Justice, to root out bureaucrats biased against President Trump.
Rooney used as justification for his radical comments the recent revelation that Peter Strzok, an FBI agent recruited by Special Counsel Robert Mueller to investigate President Trump’s connection to Russian malfeasance during the 2016 election, sent anti-Trump text messages that year. (Strzok has been removed from the investigation by Mueller.) Rooney also took issue with the fact that FBI deputy director Andrew McCabe’s wife received campaign donations from Terry McAuliffe, a friend of the Clintons, when she ran for state senate in 2015.
These wafer-thin pretexts for discrediting Mueller’s investigation, and the FBI and Department of Justice in general, have become de rigueur for President Trump — who continues to go after the FBI on Twitter — as well as several GOP lawmakers and much of Fox News. The now-constant attacks on the agency have already had some effect. James Baker, a lawyer linked to former FBI director James Comey and GOP target, was reassigned last week. McCabe announced his retirement effective next year, though the move was seen as expected.
During his appearance on Tuesday, Rooney again toed the party line when he rattled off a list of nonexistent scandals that he thinks the FBI should be investigating, including “the Clinton Foundation” and “Uranium One” — all coincidentally linked to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
“People need a good, clean goverment,” he continued, perhaps momentarily forgetting who is currently president.
“That’s a pretty broad brush you’re painting with,” MSNBC’s Hallie Jackson said, questioning whether Rooney was trying to tarnish the entire Department of Justice, and by extension Robert Mueller’s investigation.
“No, I don’t want to discredit them,” Rooney said. “I just, I would like to see the directors of the agencies purge it and say, look, we’ve got a lot of great agents, a lot of great lawyers here. Those are the people I want the American people to see and know the good work’s being done, not these people who are kind of the deep state.”
Ah, that clears everything up.