Rep. Tom Garrett (R-VA) on Monday compared special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election to the right-wing conspiracy theory that former President Barack Obama was not born in the United States.
“Imagine that there were a partly political-funded investigation into President Obama’s place of birth, right? Because this Russia investigation is essentially birtherism,” Garrett said during an interview with CNN’s Brianna Keilar.
“Imagine if political money, $9 million from the Clinton campaign and the DNC to Fusion GPS, were levied to do an investigation against President Obama as to his origin of birth,” he added. “That would be ridiculous and un-American, and this is too.”
President Donald Trump was one of birtherism’s most prominent supporters when he was a private citizen. During his 2016 campaign, Trump announced at a 36-second press conference that he believed Obama was born in the United States, and said less than a week later that he did so in order to “get on with the campaign.”
Pressed to explain his comparison between a known false narrative and a federal investigation into known Russian meddling in the 2016 election, Garrett said, “There are Russians in this world. Some of them are good. Some of them are bad. That’s for sure, like any nation. And so any attenuated contact then becomes a smoking gun? That’s ridiculous.”
He compared those making accusations of collusion to “the crazy people who made aspersions against President Obama.”
“You don’t get to pick the people with whom you’re going to interact,” Garrett said.
“You do get to decide who you invite to Trump Tower for a meeting,” Keilar pointed out, referring to Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer from whom he hoped to obtain damaging information about Hillary Clinton.
GOP Rep on meetings with Russians "You don't get to pick the people with whom you're going to interact. " pic.twitter.com/InwRuWWlF9
— Josh Marshall (@joshtpm) February 5, 2018