When it comes to the culpability for the dismal state of American politics and the accelerating erosion of our governing institutions, failure has a thousand fathers. At the top of the list of the usual suspects is Donald Trump, whose presidency of staggering incompetence, unsurpassed corruption, and lying at the speed of light has already been rated the worst in the history of the Republic. And that history will doubtless conclude that Trump’s path was made possible by Senate Leader Mitch McConnell, a one-man wrecking ball whose record-setting filibusters, unprecedented obstruction of judicial and executive branch nominees, unheard of debt-ceiling hostage-taking, outright Supreme Court theft, and complicity in Russian election interference will live in infamy.
But with the looming retirement of House Speaker and snake oil salesman Paul Ryan, a new marcher has goose-stepped into third place in the Republican parade of horribles. Texan John Cornyn, the Senate Majority Whip and Mitch McConnell’s right-hand man, is the perfect embodiment of Republican hyper-partisanship now putting America’s democratic norms and the truth itself at risk. A torture enthusiast and defender of warrantless wiretapping of American citizens, Sen. Cornyn baselessly charged President Obama with compiling an “enemies list” and then spying on candidate Donald Trump. In the cause of advancing conservative political power, the former Texas Supreme Court justice has attacked Congress’ own budget scorekeepers and even threatened state and federal judges. And with Donald Trump’s presidency in jeopardy from the continuing revelations surrounding the Mueller investigation, John Cornyn is leading the counter-attack against the special prosecutor and the FBI.
Cornyn’s water-carrying was on display in support of Trump’s bogus “Spygate” charge this week. Team Trump and its allies in Congress including Rep. Devin Nunes of California had demanded an unprecedented briefing by the Justice Department on the FBI’s use of an informant to investigate Russian outreach to Trump campaign officials during the spring and summer of 2016. Among those briefed was Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who declared he saw “no evidence” to support President Trump's claims. Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina, who led the two-year House probe into the Benghazi tragedy, went much further in debunking Trump’s mythology:
“Think back to what the president himself told James Comey,” Gowdy said. “He said, 'I didn't collude with Russia, but if anyone connected with my campaign did, I want you to investigate it.' It strikes me that that's exactly what the FBI was doing.”
But that’s not all Gowdy, himself a former prosecutor, said:
“That is not a term I've ever used in the criminal justice system. I've never heard the term 'spy' used. Undercover informant, confidential informant, those are all words I'm familiar with. I've never heard the term 'spy' used.”
But former Judge Cornyn begged to differ.