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Echoing Stalin, House Republican calls for ‘purge’ of the Department of Justice

"I think that Mr. Strzok could be purged, sure."

GOP Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL)  (right) called for a purge of the FBI on MSNBC.
GOP Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) (right) called for a purge of the FBI on MSNBC.

On Tuesday, Rep. Francis Rooney (R-FL) called for a “purge” of the Department of Justice to root out officials who may be biased against Trump.

“People need a good clean government,” Rooney told MSNBC. “I would like to see the directors of those agencies [the DOJ and FBI] purge it and say, ‘Look, we’ve got a lot of great agents, a lot of great lawyers here. Those are the people to see and know the good work’s being done, not these people who are kind of the deep state.’”

When pressed about whether he thought it was appropriate to use a Stalinist term, the freshman congressman from Florida responded, “I think that Mr. Strzok could be purged, sure.” Rooney was referring to Peter Strzok, the FBI agent was removed from the Mueller investigation when it was found that he sent text messages repeatedly disparaging Trump.

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Rooney’s use of the term “purge” drew quick condemnation. “A “purge” of the FBI?” MSNBC host Joe Scarborough tweeted. “Been reading biographies of Stalin lately, congressman? Stop.” Authoritarianism expert Brian Klass said Rooney’s remarks were “an attempt to politicize rule of law to create impunity for the leader and his entourage.”

On Wednesday morning, Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-FL) was asked about Rooney’s call for a “purge” and indicated he agrees with the sentiment, if not Rooney’s use of such a loaded term. “You look at a guy like Peter Strzok,” DeSantis told Fox and Friends. “If he’s gonna say that it’s his job as an FBI to prevent a certain candidate from getting elected… Anyone who turns up in that situation I think they should get another line of work.” DeSantis has also recently become a favorite of the president.

Both Rooney and DeSantis’ comments are only the latest in a growing clamor from Fox News personalities and GOP lawmakers, who have called for Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation to end because it is tainted and biased. Fox News’ Jeannie Pirro has said that a “cleansing is needed in our FBI and DOJ” while Sean Hannity maintains that Robert Mueller has assembled “the most partisan special counsel in history.” Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) has said the probe is an example of “disgusting, unaccountable bias.”

Republicans and conservatives have been claiming that the texts sent by Peter Strzok have tainted Mueller’s investigation into possible Russian interference in the 2016 election — despite the fact that Strzok also said in texts that he “worried about what happens if HRC is elected” and thought that Bernie Sanders supporters were “idiots.” By discrediting Mueller’s probe as corrupt and biased, conservatives hope to discredit it. Meanwhile, on the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) has warned that Republicans are dragging their feet to help wind down their investigation into Russian interference in the election.

Naturally, Trump has been delighted by claims that the investigation into him has been driven by partisan vendettas and not actual evidence. On Christmas Eve he tweeted a conspiracy theory that the FBI’s deputy director Andrew McCabe used his official email account to promote Hillary Clinton’s campaign. He also hinted at a purge of government officials who were insufficiently loyal.