Republican Rep. Tom Rooney of Florida tore into Donald Trump’s “spygate” conspiracy theory on Wednesday, suggesting that the president is well aware that his claim is bogus.
“What is the point of saying that there was a spy in the campaign when there was none?” Rooney said on Wednesday, according to Politico. “You know what I’m saying? It’s like, ‘Lets create this thing to tweet about knowing that it’s not true.'”
Rooney said Trump’s lie “doesn’t really help” his case as the Russia investigation continues to fire on all cylinders, but it’s likely the president is doing it to muddy the waters.
“Maybe it’s just to create more chaos but it doesn’t really help the case,” the Republican congressman added.
While Trump’s assertion has been a phony PR stunt since day one, the fact that Rooney ripped it to shreds is meaningful given his senior position on the House Intelligence Committee.
Though many Republicans, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Rep. Trey Gowdy, have said that the FBI did nothing wrong, Politico pointed out on Wednesday that Rooney’s comments are “the most forceful repudiation to date from a Republican lawmaker.”
It’s a step in the right direction, to be sure, but the GOP bar for standing up to Trump was already near the ground.
Another Republican who’s retiring
While Rep. Rooney’s complete repudiation of Trump’s lie is meaningful given his status on the powerful House Intelligence Committee, it’s slightly undercut due to the fact that he’s retiring.
The Republican has been in Congress for nearly ten years and in the wake of the Parkland school shooting, he urged his colleagues to “do more to prevent these tragedies.”
A key member of an important committee speaking out against Trump is a step in the right direction. But it shouldn’t just be outgoing Republicans standing up against the lawless, pathological liar in the White House.
From top to bottom, Republicans need to stand up to this president before it’s too late to make a difference.