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Gingrich in 1998 'sickened' by Starr critics
00:45 - Source: CNN
Washington CNN  — 

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has had a busy two days elbowing his way into the national conversation as a defender of President Donald Trump with rhetorical eviscerations of the “deep state” he says is out to get the President and the organized left, which he claims is fomenting violence against conservatives.

Subtext: He’s also selling a new book, audaciously titled, “Understanding Trump,” released Tuesday, and newly the spouse of a Trump administration nominee – his wife Callista has been nominated to be the US ambassador to the Vatican. So it behooves him to stand up for the President.

On Thursday, Trump was tweeting his disdain for a new Washington Post report that special counsel Robert Mueller and his team are weighing whether to investigate him for obstruction of justice.

Here are those tweets, which amount to a broadside against Mueller, the former FBI director, put together as one thought:

  • WPost headline”Trump’s actions now a focus now a focus of Mueller inquiry”. What happened to Russia?anti-Trump focus of “special” counsel
  • Should now be clear Mueller is the “anti-Trump special counsel”. Karl Rove warns in WSJ oped today”special counsels can run amok”.
  • Mueller is now clearly the ti[p of the deep state spear aimed at destroying or at a minimum undermining and crippling the Trump presidency.
  • Mueller is setting up a dragnet of obstruction, financial questions and every aspect of Trump’s life and his associates lives.very dangerous
  • The brazen redefinition of Mueller’s task tells you how arrogant the deep state is and how confident it is it can get away with anything

It’s quite a barrage: Gingrich is completely dismissing as political the special counsel that was set up to be a nonpartisan effort with the FBI director appointed by former President George W. Bush as its head.

The deep state Gingrich references, by the way, is the idea recently espoused by the White House and Trump supporters, that an entrenched and usually anonymous class of bureaucrats has made it their new life’s work to undermine Trump.

Mueller, for the record, seems more like a stereotypical G-Man, above-board and committed to the truth, than a deep stater.

That’s not an opinionated statement, by the way: When he was appointed, many Republicans, including Gingrich, had effusive praise for Mueller. Check out this quote, from Twitter:

“Robert Mueller is superb choice to be special counsel. His reputation is impeccable for honesty and integrity. Media should now calm down”

Going from an impeccable reputation for “honesty and integrity” to “tip of the deep state spear” in a month is quick work considering Mueller has not offered any public clues as to where his investigation is going.

The top Republican on the Senate Intelligence committee, which is conducting its own investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, breaks with Gingrich on the Mueller issue.

“I have a lot of confidence in Mueller,” Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, told CNN’s Tom LoBianco Thursday.

Gingrich has soured on Mueller since the Washington Post report and also the discovery that several of the staffers hired by Mueller have given money to Democratic candidates.

FBI Director Robert Mueller following a farewell ceremony in his honor at the Department of Justice on August 1, 2013.
Special counsel members donated to Dems
02:26 - Source: CNN

The other arguable hypocrisy of Gingrich’s turn against a special counsel like Mueller is the passionate way he attacked those who criticized the last high-profile special counsel, Kenneth Starr.

Granted, Starr was investigating a Democrat, Bill Clinton. And Gingrich was then speaker of the House.

But Gingrich’s disdain for Starr’s detractors was striking when he absolutely scorched them: “There is something profoundly demeaning and destructive to have the White House systematically undermine an officer of the Department of Justice. And when I watch these paid hacks on television, to be quite honest, I am sickened by how unpatriotically they undermine the Constitution of the United States on behalf of their client.”

Check the tape:

That was 19 years ago, to be sure. But if you apply his words to the current situation, Gingrich is the person currently going on television both to sell his book and defend his wife’s boss.

Blames “left” for fomenting violence

It is not just in the matter of the special counsel that Gingrich has let his opinion be heard. Just hours after the shooting Wednesday that sent House Majority Whip Steve Scalise and four others to the hospital with serious injuries, Gingrich was among the first blaming the “left” writ large for a fomenting the violence that led to this specific shooting and tying that specifically to frustration with Trump.

“But it’s part of a pattern, as you saw the one sign this guy was holding, you’ve had an increasing intensity of hostility on the left,” Gingrich said. “I talk to college students regularly who say to me, if say that they openly are for Trump, they get threatened. I’ve had college students come up to me, some of them get beaten up, some of them get death threats, we have the intensity on the left that is very real, whether it is somebody holding up, a so-called comedian holding up the President’s head in blood or whether it’s right here in New York City, a play that shows the president being assassinated or it’s Democratic-seated national politicians who are so angry they have to use vulgarity because they can’t find in a common language to talk. This intensity has been building since election night.” 

Other Republicans have since joined Gingrich in these criticisms, but he was among the first to make the complaint even as current GOP leaders like House Speaker Paul Ryan and even Trump have sought to calm nerves with messages of unity in the wake of a tragic shooting by a deranged gunman, regardless of his politics.