President Donald Trump has stepped up his criticism of the FBI, charging that the Obama Administration hired an American academic working in the United Kingdom to actively spy on his 2016 presidential campaign and campaign staff. Meanwhile, in the Virginia legislature, a Democrat member of the House of Delegates has sponsored, along with five of his colleagues, a symbolic House resolution to commend the FBI for their 110 years of great service.
Although Delegate Marcus Simon’s (D-Fairfax) resolution does not go into the specifics of any Trump-related controversies insofar as the “Criminal Deep State,” as Trump calls the FBI, is concerned, it praises the agency for fighting crime and upholding the U.S. Constitution. It concludes by saying the men and women of the FBI have, “exemplified the Bureau’s motto of ‘Fidelity, Bravery, and Integrity,'” according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
Normally, such a symbolic resolution commending the FBI would possibly pass through the House of Delegates without a touch of controversy, but, quite obviously, these are not normal times.
Considering the FBI has a large presence in Northern Virginia, Simon explains that, “it only makes sense for Virginia lawmakers to applaud the FBI and its staff for ‘doing a great job for a long time.'”
“I don’t see any reason why any rational, sane person would have any problem with this,” he said.
Simon says Trump’s attacks on the FBI did inspire him to sponsor the resolution, acknowledging it could force Republican lawmakers to choose whether they will side with the president or a law enforcement agency with deep ties to Virginia. Nevertheless, he explained he was more interested in “expressing solidarity” with the FBI than pulling a politically-motivated stunt just to torment his legislative opponents on the other side of the aisle.
“If I wanted to poke them in the eye, I would do a commending resolution on Andrew McCabe,” Simon said, referring to the fired FBI deputy director who found himself as a target of Trump, after his wife, Jill McCabe, ran for the state Senate as a Democrat in 2015.
As some Republicans are beginning to echo the president’s criticisms of the FBI, it is unclear if the GOP majority in the House will sign on to formally praising an agency that has been attacked by a Republican president.
Parker Slaybaugh, a spokesman for House Speaker Kirk Cox (R-Colonial Heights) said in a recent statement, “The speaker and the House are focused on passing a state budget, not responding to manufactured political controversies. The House routinely approves commending resolutions of this nature and there’s no reason to expect this one will be any different.”
When it comes to commending the FBI, it sounds like a decent idea, considering many of the agency’s employees call Virginia their home. As well, commending agencies, people, and former elected leaders is something the General Assembly routine does. However, it seems like this is, regardless of Simon’s wishes, a political stunt to divide an already vastly-divided legislature and electorate.