The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion Virginia Republicans rally to Trump

Rep. Ben Cline (R-Va.) speaks Aug. 6 at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Dallas. (Shelby Tauber/Reuters)

One might think that Virginia Republicans, who suffered greatly at the polls when Donald Trump was in the White House, would be eager to exit the ex-president’s orbit and build on the post-Trump success they won in the 2021 elections.

Not a chance.

In the wake of the FBI’s search of Trump’s Florida residence for government property Trump might have illegally taken with him when his single term came to its shameful end, Virginia Republicans rallied to the MAGA banner.

Leading the way was Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R). On his personal Twitter page, Youngkin said: “A stunning move by the DOJ and FBI. This same DOJ labeled parents in Loudoun County as terrorists and failed to enforce federal law to protect Justices in their homes. Selective, politically motivated actions have no place in our democracy.”

Youngkin’s tweet clearly demonstrates his point. The Post’s fact-checker, Glenn Kessler, gave the “terrorists” allegation Youngkin blithely repeats Four Pinocchios.

Youngkin’s decision to weigh in at all might surprise some — presumably, he’s got his eye on a 2024 presidential bid, so why would he give Trump a hand here?

Because it’s absolutely necessary for a modern, ambitious Republican officeholder — like Youngkin — to do so.

And so, too, with the GOP time servers in the commonwealth’s congressional delegation. Their ambitions might not exceed the next election, but the Republican members were no slouches when it came to making their respective obeisances to Trump on social media.

Rep. H. Morgan Griffith, who is among the safest House incumbents in the country, had no problem tweeting: “Raiding the home of a former U.S. president is an extraordinary action. The FBI and DOJ must offer an explanation immediately. AG Garland and Director Wray cannot expect that Americans kept in the dark about their unprecedented choice will retain any faith in their impartiality.”

Let’s compare that with a statement Griffith issued on Oct. 28, 2016, regarding the FBI’s reopening of its investigation into former secretary of state Hillary Clinton’s emails: “Although it is overdue, I applaud the FBI’s reopening of its investigation of Secretary Clinton. I hope the American people get the answers they deserve. As John Adams wrote, our system of government is ‘a government of laws, and not of men.’ No one, whether they be President of the United States or the Secretary of State, is above the law.”

Partisanship is a helluva drug, folks. Just ask Rep. Ben Cline, who tweeted the FBI’s actions were “a story from a third world country; not from America.”

This is the same Cline who signed on to a Supreme Court brief in 2020 that would have overturned the electoral votes of several states — and reversed the outcome of the presidential election. That’s real banana republic stuff right there, Mr. Cline.

Then there is 1st District Rep. Rob Wittman, a co-signer of said court brief, a determined seeker of truths: “AG Garland must immediately provide the American people with justification for this action. With polls showing most Americans don’t trust the government & this administration’s concerning past of unjustly targeting parents & political opponents, this action raises many questions.”

Wittman must also be concerned about the previous administration’s lengthy list of enemies and the ex-president’s alarming tendency to accuse others of treason.

Apparently, that’s no big deal, as Wittman also tweeted he will “get to the bottom” of what the Justice Department and FBI are doing.

Other Virginia Republicans displayed their allegiance to Trump in this incident. Rep. Bob Good railed about a “Biden/Garland march toward a police state,” and 2nd District GOP nominee Jen Kiggans, a normally Trump-averse pol, called the FBI’s action “corrupt” and “flat out unacceptable.”

These are Virginia Republicans telling us who they are: They are loyal to a disgraced real estate developer and former reality TV game show host.

Nothing else can hope to compete with it.