William B. Turner
Life in the Trump administration has had a sickening sense of deja vu about it.
Despite having lived through Watergate, the scandal that ended when President Richard Nixon resigned after the House Judiciary Committee voted out articles of impeachment because of overwhelming evidence that Nixon had tried to use the CIA to get the FBI to back off its investigation into a burglary that agents of his reelection campaign had conducted, the Donald then committed essentially the same crime. Not long after Trump rudely and summarily fired James Comey from his job as director of the FBI, Comey testified to the Senate that Trump had asked for his loyalty and an end to the investigation into potentially illegal conduct by Trump’s short lived, first national security adviser, Michael Flynn, who had to resign after a month on the job, allegedly because he had lied to the vice president about a meeting he had during the transition with the ambassador to Russia.
That very dumb move, not materially different from what Nixon did, resulted in the appointment of Robert Mueller as special prosecutor to investigate possibly illegal cooperation between the Trump campaign and Russian agents.
People being people, various tidbits of evidence emerged indicating that some of the FBI agents working for Mueller had supported Hillary Clinton in the 2016 election. Nothing at all improper about their having done so. But Trump had claimed, with no evidence, soon after taking office, that President Obama had spied illegally on his campaign in 2016.
Text messages between two of the FBI agents, who were also lovers, seemed to show that they knew about activities to survey the Trump campaign. Republicans were aflutter. Devin Nunes, Chair of the House Intelligence Committee, released a bombdud of a memo showing, in his mind, anyway, that the FBI had lied to get a warrant to listen to communications by Carter Page, who had worked for the Trump campaign. Rational, intelligent people everywhere looked at the Nunes memo and yawned. It showed nothing of what Nunes claimed it did.
But one member of Congress heroically refused to give up! Rojo to the rescue! Ron Johnson, nebbish of Wisconsin, in homage to his famous namesake, Joseph McCarthy, was sure he had uncovered a conspiracy within the FBI! Malicious agents were trying to sabotage the president of the United States and had tried to prevent him from winning the election! J’accuse! L’infame! Sacre bleu!
Oh, but then the whole towering conspiracy collapsed like a spooked souffle when it turned out that the agents in question were not talking about what Johnson claimed they were talking about.
So we have the two most twisted Republican politicians of the early twenty first century emulating the two most twisted Republican politicians of the twentieth century and doing it badly. McCarthy and Nixon were bad enough, but they were both miles smarter than their political heirs.
Trump makes a bad Nixon impersonator and Johnson makes a bad McCarthy impersonator.