Podiatrist-turned-Republican congressman Brad Wenstrup went on Fox News on Tuesday morning to say that the “types of things” the FBI did to Martin Luther King Jr. were wrong—just like the things the FBI is doing to President Donald Trump.
“Look, the types of things that we’re hearing about now — it was wrong when they did it to Martin Luther King, and it’s wrong if they do it to the Trump campaign,” said Wenstrup, who has represented Southern Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District since 2013.
There’s just a little problem with Wenstrup’s remarks: the FBI actually stalked MLK from the mid-1950s until his assassination in 1968. The agency had King under surveillance and reportedly issued tens of thousands of memos on him, including one that described him as “the most dangerous and effective Negro leader in the country.” In 1964 the FBI also sent King an unsigned letter that included a threat: “your end is approaching.” The letter suggested that King kill himself.
In a 2014 essay published in the New York Times, Beverly Gage, a Yale history professor, called the letter “the most notorious and embarrassing example of [J. Edgar] Hoover’s FBI run amok.”
There’s no indication the FBI is currently harassing President Donald Trump or sending him threats.
Wenstrup’s comments come just days after Trump announced on Twitter that he was ordering “the Department of Justice [to] look into whether or not the FBI/DOJ infiltrated or surveilled the Trump Campaign for Political Purposes.”
(As ThinkProgress notes: “We’ve known for months that the FBI’s investigation into the Trump campaign began with then-Trump campaign foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos drunkenly bragging to an Australian diplomat about his knowledge that Russia was in possession of emails stolen from Democratic targets.”)
Meanwhile, Wenstrup, who is a member of the House Intelligence Committee, told Fox News that the FBI might be conducting what he called “arrogance authority.”
“If these agencies feel that they have authority over the American people than our government is turned upside down, it’s on its head,” Wenstrup said.