GOP Congressman on 'Purge' Call: We're Supposed to be the Party Supporting Law Enforcement

FBI Agents investigate a playground near the baseball field in Alexandria, Va., on June 15, 2017, the day after House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) was shot. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

A Pennsylvania Republican said the GOP needs to remember it’s historic role as the party supporting law enforcement as some lawmakers talk about purging the FBI.

President Trump told the New York Times this week that he thinks the Russian investigation is “a very bad thing for the country because it makes the country look bad, it makes the country look very bad and puts the country in a very bad position.”

Rep. Charlie Dent (R-Pa.) told CNN he disagrees with Trump because the Russia investigation “speaks to our transparency in many ways.”

“The fact is the Russians meddled in our elections… they meddled throughout the world, and it’s important that this be investigated both by Congress and by Director Mueller,” Dent said. “I think Director Mueller has been he is a man of integrity. He has been fair. And we ought to let him do his work and lets see what he finds before we all jump to conclusions.”

Freshman Rep. Francis Rooney (R-Fla.) told MSNBC on Tuesday that he’s “very concerned the DOJ and FBI, whatever you want to call, deep state or what, are kind off the rails — I don’t want to discredit them, I just I would like to see the directors of those agencies purge it.”

Rooney told CNN the next day that he used “a pretty strong word” because he was “pretty frustrated,” but said he holds the FBI and the Department of Justice in “high esteem” and thinks special counsel Robert Mueller’s reputation is “impeccable.”

Dent said today that as Republicans “traditionally have been the party of law enforcement, not just at the federal level but state and local level as well” it’s “not helpful for Republicans to stand up and say things that could potentially undermine the ability of the FBI to operate as they should.”

“So I think that is mistaken for us to be declaring war on the FBI and the Justice Department,” the congressman said. “And, by the way, this is a Republican administration the last time I checked… at the FBI, Mr. Wray, and at the Justice Department, Mr. Sessions and Mr. Rosenstein are appointees of the president. So it is our Justice Department and FBI at this point. So, I don’t think it helps to undermine their ability to operate.”

Dent predicted Republicans will “rue the day” if law enforcement is “dealt with in such an overtly political fashion.”

“Of course, there are people in these intelligence services and the FBI who have political opinions, and as we witness, too, those political opinions should be kept to themselves, and Director Mueller, when he discovered the text messages from two of those agents involved with the investigation, well, those two individuals, I believe they were removed or demoted. So, Director Mueller behaved appropriately. So, I should point out that Director Mueller too is a Republican,” he added.

Lawmakers, Dent said, “should not be susceptible to these types of conspiracy theories — you know, people are talking about ‘deep state’ and everybody has an agenda.”

“I still believe when we have people in these agencies, they tend to be professional. Yes, they have political opinions. The question is, do their opinions impede their ability to conduct their jobs thoroughly, fairly and honestly. And I think for the most part, the answer is no, they do not. They are able to do their jobs,” the Pennsylvania Republican said. “…If we discover bias, we should deal with it. But I think a lot of my colleagues ought to take a deep breath and let Director Mueller and his team do their work and lets see what they find.”

“The president said repeatedly there’s no collusion. OK, well, let Director Mueller do his work and we will find out.”