On Thursday, Tom Nichols, a conservative Naval War College professor and Never Trump ex-Republican, penned a scorching op-ed in USA Today, describing the hearings with former special counsel Robert Mueller as a "day of shame" for House Republicans.
"We learned nothing new about Mueller’s report, but we learned a lot about the Republican Party — and especially how low elected Republicans are willing to go in order to defend President Donald Trump," wrote Nichols.
"Texas Rep. Louie Gohmert, always a reliable embarrassment for the GOP, started by putting into the record a hit job he wrote on Mueller, Robert Mueller: Unmasked. He railed at Mueller about perpetuating 'injustice' to the point where the usually stoic former FBI director broke his Joe Friday demeanor, held up his hand, and said dismissively: 'I take your question,'" wrote Nichols. "Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan did his usual Everyman-in-shirtsleeves act, trying to get Mueller to explain why he didn’t indict Joseph Mifsud, the shadowy Maltese academic identified in Mueller’s report as 'connected to Russia' and who told the hapless George Papadopoulos about the Russians having Hillary Clinton’s emails. 'Is Mifsud Western intelligence or Russian intelligence?' Jordan asked — as though Mueller could, or should, answer a stupid and loaded question like that in public by revealing sensitive information."
Nichols also laid into Rep. John Ratcliffe (R-TX), who "proceeded to insist that the entire question of exoneration was above Mueller’s pay grade ... President Trump immediately picked up this talking point on Wednesday afternoon in a meeting with reporters." As Nichols noted, "Ratcliffe must have been pleased since, according to administration sources cited by CNN, he's apparently under consideration for an intelligence or national security position in the Trump administration. If his questioning was meant as an ostentatious show of loyalty, it hit the mark."
But Nichols' biggest contempt was reserved for ranking Intelligence Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA). "A year ago ... I specifically argued for removing Nunes from the chairmanship of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where he was acting as little more than Trump’s catspaw," wrote Nichols. "Nunes’s behavior in the Mueller hearing was Exhibit A in why I made that case."
Nichols wrote that Nunes "did not give an opening statement so much as he regurgitated the full Deep State catechism. He welcomed the room to the 'last gasp of the Russia collusion conspiracy theory,' and then launched into his own cover versions of Trump’s greatest hits: Hillary Clinton, Bruce Ohr, Fusion GPS, Peter Strzok and 'his lover,' Mifsud, and on and on. It was five minutes of cringe-inducing capering that was aimed, like every other Republican’s performance, at the millions of gullible Trump supporters who refuse to believe what’s in front of their eyes."
"The Republicans once prided themselves on being the toughest opponents of America’s enemies," wrote Nichols. "They have now been reduced to inane babbling about conspiracy theories, excusing the Russians, whitewashing the hostile foreign intelligence service called WikiLeaks, and attacking a man of indisputable honor and probity — a fellow Republican, no less — all in the name of covering Donald Trump’s tracks."
"Mueller’s appearance in Congress was a day of shame for the GOP, and it is preview of the tactics we can expect from the former party of national security should its leader ever be called to account before the American people," Nichols concluded.