This GOP congressman tried to defend Trump by attacking the FBI — and it embarrassingly backfired
Former acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe is coming under fire again from the right wing as he promotes his new book, which recounts parts of his disturbing tenure working under President Donald Trump.
McCabe, who took over for former FBI Director James Comey after Trump fired him, revealed he began an obstruction of justice investigation into the president following the incident. While the White House initially claimed that Trump fired Comey because he behaved inappropriately by revealing details about the Hillary Clinton email investigation, the president subsequently admitted that the termination was because he was upset about the director's handling of the Russia investigation. McCabe also described Trump's behavior like that of a "mob boss" and says that there were internal discussions about using the 25th Amendment to remove him from office.
In trying to respond to these bombshells, Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH), a conservative ally of the president who faced his own scandal when former students accused him of overlooking allegations of sexual harassment and misconduct while he was a wrestling coach, attacked McCabe and the FBI's credibility in a tweet:
All un-elected and all plotted against the president. Comey: fired McCabe: fired Baker: demoted, resigned Page: d… https://t.co/7wsnOEdWPk— Rep. Jim Jordan (@Rep. Jim Jordan)1550160279.0
In response, historian Kevin Kruse revealed the basic flaw in Jordan's apparent argument, pointing out that it actually undermines the claim he's trying to make:
@Jim_Jordan So these non-political law enforcement officers were investigating the president for possible crimes an… https://t.co/jIW65DzUVO— Kevin M. Kruse (@Kevin M. Kruse)1550167161.0
Bringing up the Comey firing is particularly galling on Jordan's part. Trump has admitted that he fired Comey over the Russia investigation, not for other wrongdoing, which many have argued is a rather obvious example of obstructing justice.
And while it's true that the DOJ inspector general admonished McCabe for failing to be honest in an investigation, his firing was also carried out under extremely suspicious circumstances. He was let go just two days before he was set to retire, putting his pension at risk, after repeated public attacks from the president. Given McCabe's role in investigations of the president, these attacks are troubling, particularly when seen as a pattern of behavior connected to Comey's firing.
In a statement after the firing, McCabe said he was forced out for political reasons.
"Here is the reality: I am being singled out and treated this way because of the role I played, the actions I took, and the events I witnessed in the aftermath of the firing of James Comey," he said. "The OIG's focus on me and this report became a part of an unprecedented effort by the Administration, driven by the President himself, to remove me from my position, destroy my reputation, and possibly strip me of a pension that I worked 21 years to earn. The accelerated release of the report, and the punitive actions taken in response, make sense only when viewed through this lens."
And while the inspector general had reason to believe McCabe was dishonest, the topic about which he may have lied actually cuts against Jordan's theory of a "plot" against Trump. The allegation is that McCabe misled investigators about his role in the publication of facts about an investigation of the Clinton Foundation — that he told the media that he was protecting the investigation in the middle of the presidential campaign. This set of facts that would be helpful to Trump, rather than implicating McCabe in a conspiracy against the president.
And while it's true Peter Strzok and Lisa Page were punished and eventually left the Justice Department because their anti-Trump texts were revealed, the inspector general found that there was no evidence they acted on anti-Trump sentiment in their work. And the fact they were punished and removed from the investigation when these texts were revealed shows that the FBI was working appropriately even as it pursued serious investigatory inquiries against the president.
While it's not clear what exactly happened regarding former General Counsel Jim Baker in the FBI, he hasn't been formally accused of wrongdoing, and accounts of his reassignment after Comey left do not characterize it as a "demotion," as Jordan claimed. And even if Baker were forced out by the current FBI Director Christopher Wray, who was appointed by Trump, Wray himself has defended the investigations into the president and his campaign. He has directly contradicted Trump's claim that the investigation is a "witch hunt."
So while Jordan seemed to think he had a knock-down argument against the FBI, in fact, his argument supports the exact opposite view. While the president has behaved in extremely suspicious ways with regard to the FBI and its investigations, the bureau has held itself to strict standards of integrity and shown little sign of concocting an anti-Trump conspiracy.