While going after Joe Biden, Ted Cruz forgets all about Spiro Agnew

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While going after Joe Biden, Ted Cruz forgets all about Spiro Agnew

Sen. Ted Cruz has taken a keen interest in his party’s attempts to manufacture a corruption scandal surrounding President Joe Biden. In fact, after talking up the increasingly absurd story on Fox News last night, the Texas Republican made a curious claim via social media:

“There’s never been an allegation in the history of our country that a President of the United States, or then Vice President in Joe Biden’s alleged case, sold official favors for millions of dollars.”

 As much as I appreciated the GOP senator throwing in the word “alleged,” it’s difficult to defend such irresponsible rhetoric. Republicans have spent the better part of 2023 trying to find evidence of an imagined “bribery” scandal that doesn’t exist, and their efforts have failed spectacularly.

Indeed, the party’s star witness recently testified that the president wasn’t involved with Burisma, didn’t talk business with his son’s associates, and didn’t take bribes, effectively shredding each of the Republicans’ core claims. (We know this for certain because the GOP-led panel released a transcript of the Q&A, which Cruz might not have seen.)

It reached the point this week that some of the House Republicans’ most determined anti-Biden crusaders conceded that they’ve found no evidence against the president — though they made the case that they no longer believe that evidence of wrongdoing is necessary.

Or put another way, the “allegations” Cruz is so eager to promote remain entirely baseless.

But all things considered, this was just run-of-the-mill wrong. What really stood out in the Texan’s message wasn’t his unfair anti-Biden smear; it was his errors related to history.

A vice president has never been accused of selling official favors for money? That’s plainly wrong.

For example, Schuyler Colfax, Ulysses S. Grant’s vice president, was caught up in the Crédit Mobilier scandal which involved cash bribes to powerful officials. The allegations ruined Colfax’s career, and nearly led to his impeachment.

But even if Cruz is unfamiliar with mid-19th century American politics, I would’ve hoped the senator was at least somewhat familiar with Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon’s vice president, who carried out a bribery and extortion ring while in office.

A friend of mine did a podcast and wrote a book about it.

Cruz’s lazy attempts to smear Biden are unfortunate, but it’s also worth taking a stand against the senator’s attempt at Spiro Agnew erasure.

Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer for “The Rachel Maddow Show,” the editor of MaddowBlog and an MSNBC political contributor. He’s also the bestselling author of “The Impostors: How Republicans Quit Governing and Seized American Politics.”

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