Milken Institute / Flickr Mr Speaker A Conversation With Paul...
Milken Institute / Flickr

When spineless Paul Ryan split with Donald Trump Wednesday on his lie that the FBI embedded a ‘spy’ in his campaign, it stood out as a noteworthy departure from Ryan’s usual complicity with Trump’s every whim. But when two more GOP lawmakers joined Ryan in backing Gowdy’s assessment the same day, it seemed beyond coincidental.

Retiring GOP Rep. Trey Gowdy kicked off the trend last week, saying the FBI’s actions during the 2016 election were perfectly appropriate. Ryan followed his lead Wednesday morning and by day’s end, Gowdy would score two more Republican backers: Florida Rep. Tom Rooney and chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Sen. Richard Burr.

Rooney, who is retiring alongside Gowdy and Ryan and sits on the House Intelligence panel, was especially pointed in his criticism of Trump. Politico writes:

“What is the point of saying that there was a spy in the campaign when there was none?” Rooney said in an interview on Wednesday. “You know what I’m saying? It’s like, ‘Lets create this thing to tweet about knowing that it’s not true.’ … Maybe it’s just to create more chaos but it doesn’t really help the case.” […]

“Look, if you want to disagree with what we were briefed on and say that it was a spy? That’s fine, I guess. We would just disagree with that,” he said. “And if that makes us RINOs because we have a different opinion about what the FBI was doing, then I guess we’re RINOs.”

Then there was Burr:

“I think that Trey Gowdy’s description of the process was correct,” Burr said.

And this…

Even Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Judiciary chair Chuck Grassley have chimed in on the lunatic notion that Trump could pardon himself.

Something appears to be afoot. It’s unclear whether it’s based on some revelatory polling that’s terrified Republicans pre-midterms or perhaps the FBI’s Russia briefings for the Gang of Eight last week. But put a pin in this—we’re not talking about profiles in courage here, but we are talking about a departure from the norm.

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