As the number of criminal indictments against people in Donald Trump’s orbit grows, so too does the list of suspected felons whom we’re supposed to perceive as victims of law enforcement.
For example, Republicans have been heavily invested for months in the idea that surveillance of Carter Page, one of Trump’s campaign foreign-policy advisers, and a man who described himself in writing as an “advisor to the staff of the Kremlin,” was outrageous. Similarly, in Republican circles, many have insisted that former White House National Security Adviser Michael Flynn was set up by the FBI.
The president has even suggested his disgraced former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, wasn’t treated fairly ahead of his multi-count conviction.
This week, Republicans have apparently identified a new victim. Politico reported overnight:
Senate Judiciary Chairman Lindsey Graham wants the FBI to explain why President Donald Trump’s longtime associate, Roger Stone, was arrested in the early morning hours last week and whether the media was tipped off beforehand.
In a letter sent to FBI director Christopher Wray on Wednesday, Graham asked the agency to explain whether the arrest was consistent with arrests of “similarly charged individuals.” The South Carolina Republican also asked why the FBI arrested Stone at his home instead of working through his lawyers “to permit him to surrender voluntary.”
“The American public has had enough of the media circus that surrounds the Special Counsel’s investigation,” Graham argued, as if it’s Robert Mueller, and not Trump’s felonious associates, that’s the problem. “Yet, the manner of this arrest appears to have only added to the spectacle. Accordingly, I write to seek justification for the tactics used and the timing of the arrest of Mr. Stone.”
The South Carolina senator, who’s up for re-election next year, fleshed out a series of questions he posed to the FBI in a fairly long Twitter thread.
He’s not alone.
Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.), the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee, has also demanded information from the FBI on Roger Stone’s arrest, and Donald Trump himself complained to a far-right outlet called the Daily Caller yesterday about the way in which his longtime associate was taken into custody.
It’s worth emphasizing that Stone has been charged with obstruction, giving false statements, and witness tampering, and at least for now, none of these leading Republicans have tried to argue that he’s innocent. Rather, Graham, Collins, and Trump have raised concerns over the way in which the GOP operative was arrested.
It’s quite a posture for a party that, in the very recent past, has criticized the left for questioning the way in which law enforcement does its job.
If Graham and his allies have suddenly changed their perspective, and they recently discovered sincere concerns about how the FBI arrests people, fine. But if Republicans’ questions in this area are limited to people close to Donald Trump, they shouldn’t expect to be taken seriously.