Several targets of President Donald Trump’s blame for a purported Democratic “witch hunt” against him are in reality longtime Republicans with national service credentials.
This stubborn little fact alone shows how little sense Trump makes when he tries to cast the Russia probe as a partisan plot.
Robert Mueller, the special counsel, was widely touted as a conservative Republican in 2001 when President George W. Bush appointed him to a 10-year term as FBI director.
Mueller received the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for service in Vietnam, where he was a Marine infantry platoon commander.
Then there is James Comey, the former FBI director Trump asked to stay in the job but later fired. Comey’s unique stake in history may be that he enraged the players in both major parties within a matter of months.
Comey has said Trump pulled him aside to demand “loyalty” and to stop probing ex-aide Michael Flynn — who since pleaded guilty to making false statements to the investigators.
Ironically, the self-made Comey’s background has broad similarities to that of his current nemesis and ex-boss, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani. Comey supported Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for president in 2008, was a mob-busting New York prosecutor, and served in the U.S. attorney general’s office.
Even top Trump appointees at the Justice Department are continually criticized, even demonized, by the president and his congressional allies who gripe that some of the professional department staff are still identifiable as Democrats.
But Attorney General Jeff Sessions is the longtime Republican senator from Alabama and 2016 Trump ally. Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a Republican, was blocked from a U.S. Court of Appeals seat by Democratic senators a decade ago.
Now Trump peddles an imaginary product he named “spygate.”
His previous canards include millions voting illegally, wiretappings ordered by President Barack Obama, record inaugural crowds in defiance of all evidence and the hallucinated role of GOP Sen. Ted Cruz’s father in the JFK assassination.
The alleged “spy” was an FBI informant named Stefan Halper who had contact with Trump campaign advisers. Law-enforcement officials were inquiring at the time about Russian interference in the 2016 campaign.
Halper served on the White House domestic policy council for President Richard Nixon and as assistant to President Gerald Ford’s chief of staff. He also served in President Ronald Reagan’s Department of State.
If partisan intrigue made up any part of Halper’s career, it would have been on the GOP side. Halper was caught up in allegations he used ex-CIA agents to run a shadowy campaign operation in 1980 against President Jimmy Carter, which he denied.