Although House Democrats already announced their formal articles of impeachment against President Donald Trump, the hits to the president’s team’s public image just keep coming. This Wednesday, during a public hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, the Justice Department’s inspector general Michael Horowitz roundly upended the Trump conspiracy theory that then-President Barack Obama personally supervised some kind of surveillance of the Trump campaign during the 2016 election season. Trump has even claimed that Obama personally authorized a wiretap of Trump Tower — but there’s so little evidence for that, Trump might as well have claimed that the moon is made of cheese. That’s the utter lack of credibility that continues to define the current president.
The Judiciary Committee’s ranking member Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) asked Horowitz if there was any evidence that Obama had pressured his team to investigate Trump. Horowitz — whose team reviewed more than one million documents and interviewed some one hundred people — indicated that there was no such evidence. He explained:
‘We certainly didn’t see any evidence of that in the FBI’s files or the department’s files.’
Of course, that doesn’t mean that Republicans don’t have a basket of attempted zingers ready to go in response anyway. Committee member Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) clearly thought he’d come up with something brilliant when he rambled on about how the lack of evidence for bias among the files that Horowitz’s team reviewed supposedly doesn’t mean there’s not evidence of bias still out there somewhere anyway. It’s reminiscent of President Trump’s own past claim that just because there’s a complete lack of evidence for his claims that undocumented immigrants harbor crime, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still secret immigrant crime sprees out there anyway. (There aren’t.)
‘Your lack of evidence here is not evidence that there was no bias.’
‘I’m solely basing [my conclusions], correct, on the actual evidence that we have.’
Remarkably, Horowitz’s assertion that he’s sticking to the evidence is, in Republicans’ eyes, apparently evidence of some vast deep state conspiracy to upend the president.
Mike Lee thought this was an *incredible* own of the libs pic.twitter.com/UxeVpjQWBJ
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) December 11, 2019
Attorney General Bill Barr — the top law enforcement officer of the United States! — has already made a similar complaint that observers won’t accept his team’s claims about 2016 with a complete lack of evidence for them.
‘All he said was, people gave me an explanation and I didn’t find anything to contradict it … he hasn’t decided the issue of improper motive. I think we have to wait until the full investigation is done.’
Barr has tasked U.S. Attorney John Durham with examining the origin of the Russia investigation in what’s reportedly turned into a criminal probe, although it’s unclear what crimes could even be claimed to have happened. It’s also unclear where Lee and his allies would have investigators look for evidence of the bias that they’re so sure exists. At this point, it seems like Republicans are going with the idea that if they can dream up the conspiracy theory, then it must be legitimate. They have simply completely divorced themselves from the reality of the evidence accumulated right in front of them — and the formal impeachment of their Dear Leader Trump keeps getting closer.