Remember when conservatives believed no one was above the law?
WASHINGTON -- Something about President Trump causes conservatives to eat their own.
Henry Kerner was a model conservative. A member of the Federalist Society, he clerked for a Reagan-appointed judge. As a Republican staffer, he led House and Senate inquiries into the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups, Obamacare and the "Fast and Furious" gun-running program. Trump rewarded him by naming him head of the Office of Special Counsel.
Then, Kerner went after White House counselor Kellyanne Conway -- and everything changed.
On Wednesday, with Kerner at the witness table, congressional Republicans attacked his integrity and ethics, and accused the stalwart conservative of carrying water for progressive groups.
Rep. Jim Jordan (Ohio), the ranking Republican on the House Oversight Committee, questioned the "motives" of Kerner, who just a couple of years ago was the lead Republican staff investigator for the same committee that was now receiving his testimony. Kerner's office "doesn't like that [Conway] is conservative," Jordan explained. "She's being targeted because she's good at what she does." Jordan alleged that Kerner was doing "the same thing" the IRS did to conservatives: "They applied one standard to their ideological friends, a different standard if you were conservative."
Kerner could not resist pointing out the absurdity: He was the author of the Senate Republican majority's 37-page report excoriating the IRS for targeting tea party groups.
"No kidding," retorted Jordan, unimpressed.
Fellow Republicans piled on their committee's erstwhile Republican staffer.
Rep. Mark Meadows (N.C.) accused Kerner of acting out of personal pique ("Kellyanne Conway made you mad") and of acting because of "heat from the media and from some on the left." Meadows alleged that Kerner, a Harvard Law graduate, had not been "consistent with the law."
And then there was Rep. Paul Gosar (Ariz.). "How can we take anything you say as objective when you have a history of questionable ethics?" he asked.