Remember all the stories about “pink slime” in ground beef several years ago? Though the topic of pink slime lurking in that cellophane container in your shopping cart might have disappeared for the moment, slime of a non-pink variety hasn’t. In fact, today’s Republican Party has perfected the art of soiling or, more accurately, sliming many things in our country, including some of our revered national institutions.
Like the FBI. And its parent, the U.S. Department of Justice.
Let’s examine two prominent Republicans at work today who are masters of the art of sliming.
Last week, new Trump consigliere Rudy Giuliani scored a new low in the slime game. Yes, the former federal prosecutor and wannabe New York Yankees relief pitcher came out of the Trump bullpen to throw a slimer (no, not a typo for slider) to add to the current state of national disunion and distraction.
Wearing Trump’s New York pinstripes and yearning to earn a few more stripes from his boss, Giuliani referred to the FBI agents who conducted a lawful, court-approved raid of the offices of sometime Trump lawyer Michael Cohen as Nazi “stormtroopers.” Never mind that it was the same FBI Manhattan field office that Giuliani relied on for nearly six years in his role as the U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
As confirmation that he is not on the top of his game, Giuliani has amply demonstrated that he has a limited pitching repertoire. No fastball or curveball. Only a slimer.
“What a despicable, pathetic man,” Donny Deutsch said of Giuliani on MSNBC’s Morning Joe program. (Full Disclosure: As someone whose brother, a 25-year veteran of the FBI who worked four years in the same Manhattan field office that Giuliani slimed, I couldn’t agree more with Deutsch’s statement. However, since Plunderbund is a serious, professional publication, my words to describe the treacherous Giuliani and his disparagement of FBI agents, those dedicated public servants who serve to protect us from enemies foreign and domestic, will remain private, as they extend beyond Deutsch’s gentler terms of despicable and pathetic.)
Giuliani’s sliming of the FBI evoked an immediate response from James Comey, the former FBI Director who was fired last year by Trump:
But when it comes to hurling slimers in the political contests that his party has come to master, Giuliani is not the only star in the GOP lineup of distracters, distorters, and soilers. No, you can count on another slimer, that certain Ohio congressman from Urbana, to be always ready to relieve from that bullpen.
Jim Jordan, who fellow Ohioan and former Speaker of the House John Boehner once famously described as “A terrorist. A legislative terrorist,” has few peers in the slime game. In a December 2017 article, the constantly coatless congressman who cannot correctly pronounce the proper noun Democratic Party without his usual sliming act of dropping the noun’s last syllable, was featured on the subject of incivility. Jordan has helped to foment an epidemic of meanness and deliberate distraction from more pressing issues, where he is a master at infecting low-information voters and spreading a contagion of nastiness across the land.
Yes, the coatless congressional wonder joined Giuliani as a bullpen reliever in the slime game. Jordan, a member of the House Freedom Caucus, is threatening to impeach Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for not turning over documents that are part of the ongoing Russian collusion investigation into the 2016 election.
The Columbus Dispatch described Jordan’s apparent collusion in impeding the work of the special counsel:
The head of a government ethics organization accused House Republican Jim Jordan of Urbana of helping President Donald Trump “thwart” Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into whether Trump aides in 2016 colluded with Russian officials to damage the presidential campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21 in Washington, charged that by threatening articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein for refusing to turn over to Congress documents about the investigation, Jordan, Rep. Mark Meadows, R-S.C., and Trump are “colluding to obstruct and potentially give” the White House control of the probe.
To his credit, Rosenstein, a Republican, has decided to fight back against GOP slimers like Jim Jordan. He has taken a position that he will not turn over any documents that are part of an active investigation before it is concluded, an action that would tip off the very subject of that investigation, Jordan’s friend and fellow slimer, Donald Trump.
In the process of saying no to Jordan and his Freedom Caucus, Rosenstein delivered an eloquent speech in Maryland on Law Day that seemed to be directed at Jordan and his uncivil gang of legislative terrorists. He told his audience at the Montgomery County Bar Association about the experience of a predecessor, Robert Jackson, Franklin Roosevelt’s Attorney General, who was pressured by Congress to release files from an active investigation:
It is a bedrock principle, with very few exceptions, that we do not discuss investigations. The Department’s longstanding practice of keeping information about our investigations confidential has often been the source of disagreement with Congress.
In 1941, Congressman Carl Vinson wrote a letter to Attorney General Robert Jackson. He requested FBI and DOJ reports made in connection with an investigation of labor disputes involving Navy contracts. Vinson’s committee had oversight for such issues, which is why he wanted the documents.
Attorney General Jackson flatly refused the request. He did not compromise at all. Jackson explained that disclosing investigative reports would harm the national interest in a number of different ways.
First, it would “seriously prejudice law enforcement” by providing defense counsel with the government’s confidential impressions of the case.
Second, disclosing certain investigative reports would give aid to our enemies and jeopardize our national security.
Third, investigative reports often contain information about witnesses and informants. Releasing the information could stifle the FBI’s ability to obtain sources and could even put lives at risk.
The fourth reason is often overlooked. Jackson explained that handing over the documents could harm the reputations of innocent people. Being a subject of an investigation – or even a target – is not the same as being guilty of a crime.
Some astute observers believe that Rosenstein’s address was a not-so-subtle attempt to school Jordan and his followers that there is such a principle called the separation of powers, and that the uncivil congressman may be advised of the need to return to law school and retake a course in constitutional law.
But then again, why should we even consider using the word principle in a discussion about people like Jordan and Giuliani, who have proven time and again that they have none?
Come to think of it, how is it that the GOP – God’s Own Party – the institution which constantly broadcasts the idea of Christian faith, has actors like Jordan and Giuliani who, rather than exhibiting faith, only offer doubt in our secular institutions like the FBI and Justice Department?
When you have two law school graduates like Rudy Giuliani and Jim Jordan, recognized masters of slime and practitioners of uncivil behavior, it makes you wonder. Better yet, when it comes to truth-telling, please be advised not to have any faith in either.