As the Trump administration, and its surrogates the election officials of the Republican, continue on their parade to try and smear anyone on the opposite side, FBI Deputy Director Andrew McCabe has become their latest (or, more accurately, I suppose, one of their latest) target. And in doing so, I was intrigued by two particular claims against him about impartiality.
The first is that McCabe has a supposed conflict-of-interest and can't investigate fairly because his wife, Dr. Jill McCabe, had been a candidate for the Virginia state senate when she received a large contribution from a political action committee that was associated with then-Gov. Terry McAuliffe who (sorry, don't stop yet, we have to connect all the dots...) is friends and a one-time associate of Hillary Clinton.
There are many arguments that one could make to address this twisted tale, not the least of which is that it's not not against FBI rules, nor even inappropriate for FBI agents to have outside political interests, let alone that their spouses have outside interest and personal lives, and that the requirement of their FBI job is that they do their professional work fairly and objectively. And there is zero evidence presented or even intimated that Andrew McCabe has been anything but exemplary and impeccable. But that isn't the argument that leaped out to me, but something else entirely. It was the memory of when it came to light in 20111 that the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, Virginia Thomas, was the founder and chief lobbyist of a conservative Tea Party firm, Liberty Consulting. And Republicans in Congress found absolutely no conflict-of-interest problem with this. Never mind that Mrs. Thomas was, in fact, directly earning current, active income for the Thomas household from lobbying issues that her Supreme Court Justice husband was directly deciding the Law of the Land on. No, no, that was absolutely fine to Republicans. Not a problem. No conflict. Nothing to see here, move along, sonny.
I was going to say that it seems like Republicans should make up their mind -- except it's clear they already have. They made up their mind six years ago when they said that there was zero conflict of interest for a Supreme Court Justice whose wife earns income for the family household when lobbying on issues he's actively deciding. So, since by any standard that's overwhelmingly more a potential conflict than "a friend of an associate who's connected to an organization that once helped the wife of an investigator two years earlier," it seems pretty clear that Republicans are not-shockingly being abundantly hypocritical and should shut up about their whining already.
The other Republican claim about Andrew McCabe's supposed-inability to do his job is that the Deputy Director is himself such a deep partisan for Democrats that he is much too impartial to do his job fairly. Again, never mind that there's been absolutely no evidence presented to show that Andrew McCabe is in the slightest impartial in his FBI work, but what leaps out to me is again something else. It's that all the Republican officials who are making this particular charge (one of the most vocal being Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-TX) are themselves so deeply outraged in their profound, stomach-churning hatred of Democrats -- not just about Andrew McCabe, or Robert Mueller (who is a Republican, but never mind, don't muddy the water with reality), but virtually All Things Democratic, for years, Mr. Gohmert especially being a professional partisan of such intensity that he famously got so worked up when questioning then-Attorney General Eric Holder at a House committee hearing that he couldn't speak straight and spewed out his hatred that the Attorney General "was casting aspersions at my asparagus" -- that by their own argument every one of these Republicans should be required to recuse themselves on deciding anything in Congress, including any possible, upcoming impeachment vote, that has to do with Democrats or Republicans because of their clear, overwhelming partisanship.
Hey, it's their standard. And unlike with Andrew McCabe, there actually is evidence -- years of evidence, on the record, on video -- of their ongoing partisanship and visceral hatred of Democrats, most notably Barack Obama, So, well, maybe they should just shut up about that, too.
And by the way, just to close -- lest anyone think that I was being hyperbolic about Louie Gohmert being flummoxed by his anger at Eric Holder and that he really only said something that sort of, maybe, kind of sounded like "casting aspersions on my asparagus," no, that's exactly what he said. Let's go to the tape.
To which Attorney General Eric Holder -- given a chance to respond with time having run out -- famously replied simply, "Good luck to your asparagus."
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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