Ronna McDaniel, the chair of the Republican National Committee, invests quite a bit of time defending the president who appointed her to the job, though on Monday, she did so in a curious way. She published this to Twitter:
“The latest [Southern District of New York] fishing expedition is another example of blue-state liberal prosecutors carrying out their vendetta against [Donald Trump].
“Let’s be clear: These are investigations in search of a crime – and their harassment has gone on for far too long.”
Right off the bat, it continues to amaze that Republicans, for all of their posturing about the party’s respect for law enforcement, routinely offer bitter complaints about law enforcement.
For that matter, the RNC’s reference to the Southern District of New York points to one of the nation’s highest profile offices for federal prosecutors. It’s led by a U.S. Attorney who was appointed by none other than Donald Trump and confirmed by a Republican-led Senate – making it an unlikely target for complaints from the RNC chair.
But in this specific instance, those are just the surface-level problems with McDaniel’s missive. The more glaring concern is that she blasted federal prosecutors in response to an investigation from the New York state attorney general’s office – and those two offices are not the same thing. They’re both law enforcement, but blaming the Southern District of New York for the actions of the New York AG doesn’t make sense. The former has no control over the latter.
All of which leads to a related question: did the RNC chair simply make an embarrassing mistake or was this intentional?
Monday’s mistaken tweet is still online as of this morning. McDaniel has had a couple of days to delete it and/or acknowledge her confusion, but at least so far, she hasn’t. (The RNC chair has published a few other tweets targeting the New York attorney general’s office specifically.)
Sure, Occam’s razor suggests this was an innocent screw-up. McDaniel saw the reports about the AG’s office and mixed it up with federal prosecutors’ office. The alternative, however, is that the Trump-appointed RNC chair wants to undermine public confidence in the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York – an office of particular significance to this White House since this is the same office that has implicated the president in Michael Cohen’s criminal case.
Again, if the RNC simply made a mistake, fine. I’ve published accidental errors to Twitter myself, and I know it can be a little embarrassing. But it might be worth keeping an eye on those in Trump’s orbit in the coming weeks to see who else, if anyone, is also taking public rhetorical shots at an important federal prosecutors’ office.