Republican lawmakers on Capitol Hill who have a fervent loyalty to President Donald Trump are making clear that they intend to disrupt the Russia collusion investigation by any means necessary.
But one exchange between Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) highlights just how disingenuous their lines of attack really are.
Jordan questioned Rosenstein about a Fox News report that suggested the deputy attorney general had himself made threats to congressional staffers. That report, however, has been disputed by many Department of Justice officials, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
That didn’t stop Jordan from asking the question anyway.
“This is what [staffers] said: 'Having the nation's No. 1 law enforcement officer threaten to subpoena your calls and emails is downright chilling,'” Jordan began. “Did you threaten to subpoena their calls and emails?”
Perhaps noting the absurdity of the question, Rosenstein replied, “No sir, and there's no way to subpoena phone calls.”
The room then broke out in laughter.
Rep. @Jim_Jordan: "Did you threaten to subpoena their calls and emails?"— CSPAN (@cspan) June 28, 2018
Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein: "No sir, and there's no way to subpoena phone calls."
Jordan: "I'm reading what the press said."
Rosenstein: "I would suggest that you not rely on what the press said." pic.twitter.com/kgsxhHTOlo
“I’m reading what the press said,” Jordan responded, holding up the Fox News article.
“I would suggest that you not rely on what the press said, sir,” Rosenstein countered.
While a blanket call to ignore all media would be wrong, Rosenstein is correct to give the advice he did to Jordan. The Fox News article had been thoroughly debunked, and to continue using it as “evidence” against the deputy attorney general is faulty.
Fox News has pushed unreliable stories on a myriad of occasions — it simply isn’t an organization that can be trusted to deliver facts. And when Jordan tried to use an inaccurate "news" story against him, Rosenstein rightly called him out for it in Congress on Thursday.
Republicans like Jordan who have decided to join in on Trump’s crusade to undermine the Russia investigation are treading on dangerous ground. Their transparent attempts to damage the integrity of the inquiry cannot be allowed to go unchallenged.