The J. Edgar Hoover Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) building stands in Washington, D.C., Aug. 8, 2013.
Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg/Getty

Republican lawmakers see FBI firings through a curious lens

Updated

The Rachel Maddow Show, 8/13/18, 9:04 PM ET

Trump team destroying careers of Comey witnesses one by one

Rachel Maddow points out that six of the seven people James Comey told about his meetings with Donald Trump are gone or leaving the FBI, with the one who hasn’t been made into a political punching bag, David Bowdich, firing Peter Strzok, contrary to FBI
Rachel Maddow points out that six of the seven people James Comey told about his meetings with Donald Trump are gone or leaving the FBI, with the one who hasn’t been made into a political punching bag, David Bowdich, firing Peter Strzok, contrary to FBI
Donald Trump and his allies have been relentless in targeting their perceived foes in federal law enforcement. Among those who’ve been fired are FBI Director James Comey, Deputy FBI Director Andrew McCabe, and as we learned yesterday, Peter Strzok, who led the FBI’s counterintelligence division.

Among those who were reassigned, before ultimately quitting under pressure, are FBI Chief of Staff Jim Rybicki and FBI General Counsel James Baker.

It’s against this backdrop that some of the White House’s allies have come up with a striking new observation. Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), a Republican gubernatorial hopeful who’s been described as the president’s “mini-me,” published a fascinating Twitter thread yesterday.

“The firing of anti-Trump FBI agent Peter Strzok is welcome, if overdue. By exhibiting such rampant bias, Strzok did enormous damage to the FBI and to the country.

“Accountability has not always been quick or easy. But the fact that so many of 2016’s key players … have seen adverse actions taken against them shows that these matters were mishandled.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), who hopes to be the next Speaker of the House despite his recent controversies, published a similar tweet, highlighting those who’ve been ousted from the FBI. The far-right congressman said he’s “never seen a federal agency where that’s happened.”

I’ll confess, I didn’t see this coming, though it’s consistent with the larger political gambit. Among the fiercest Republican partisans, FBI officials are the bad guys, leading a corrupt agency, which is insufficiently loyal to Donald Trump – who, of course, must be seen as the victim of an illegal investigation into the Russia scandal.

With this in mind, folks like DeSantis and Jordan are effectively arguing, “Our concerns about the FBI must’ve been right after all. Just look at all of those firings and demotions!”

A more reality-based approach points in the opposite direction. The president and his allies, eager to undermine an ongoing investigation, have launched a partisan crusade against federal law enforcement. The purge of leading FBI officials isn’t proof of widespread wrongdoing at the bureau; it’s more likely evidence of a political vendetta against those the White House considers disloyal, problematic, or both.

Postscript: If you missed Rachel’s segment last night on the common thread tying together most of those ousted from the FBI – they’re all witnesses for James Comey – it’s well worth your time.