You would think the stunning news that the CIA had concluded Russia hacked the Democrats to help President-elect Donald Trump win the election, followed by Trump’s insulting dismissal of 17 intelligence agencies finding that Russia was responsible — which in turn was followed by news he intended to nominate as secretary of state an unqualified chief executive with exceptionally close ties to Vladimir Putin (and who opposed sanctions) — would have stirred outrage and deep concern among Republicans, who used to pride themselves on their national security chops. You would be wrong.
Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) were the most outspoken. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) expressed her concern as well. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) put out one sarcastic tweet. Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and James Lankford (R-Okla.) also publicly backed a probe. But these were the exceptions.
House Speaker Paul Ryan could not even manage to call explicitly for a probe of Russian hacking. A slew of Republican Senate offices, including those of Sens. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Mike Lee (R-Utah), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), would not comment or simply refused to respond to inquiries. We were told that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has a news conference on Mondays, so his take would be forthcoming.
Granted, the news broke over a weekend, so perhaps the senators will have more to say today or during the workweek, although you’d think they would be able to focus on issues of national security any day of the week. Nevertheless, why are these Republicans so silent? I mean, this is a really big deal. If and when Republicans come out from hiding, enterprising journalists should ask them a series of questions:
If Trump continues to receive foreign monies in violation of the Constitution what will you do?
Republicans lambasted Hillary Clinton for coming to the State Department while her husband was getting paid for speeches and their foundation was accepting foreign money. Why are you not insisting on a similar standard for Trump?
Does it bother you that his children will be running businesses and he will be reaping the profits from all sorts of businesses that have matters before the federal government or are affected by laws and regulations? If Clinton attempted this wouldn’t you be calling for impeachment?
Do you favor hearings and/or legislation to address Trump’s conflicts?
Do you agree with the unanimous assessment of our intelligence agencies that Russia was behind the hacking? If so, are you concerned Trump and his aides are calling this “ridiculous”?
If the president does not act on intelligence that is factually beyond dispute in defense of U.S. interests is he fulfilling his constitutional obligations?
Donald Trump still has not released his tax returns so we do not know the extent of his financial ties, if any, to Russia. Does that concern you?
Trump’s pick for national security adviser traveled to Russia, gave a speech for which he was paid (how much we do not know), says Russia’s propaganda outlet RT is just like CNN and retweets attacks on all Muslims and “fake news” accounts. Should he be in the NSA position? Will you subpoena his financial records to determine his connections to Russia and whether those pose a national security concern?
Most elected Republicans shed their principles and their judgment in backing Trump for president. They justified or ignored a string of outrageous, bigoted or ignorant comments. They never demanded he produce his tax returns. They tolerated his lies about what he had previously said. They shrugged their shoulders when he incited violence. They were unmoved by his shady charity, his history of avoiding taxes, his pattern of stiffing small business people and by his operation of Trump University. In a myriad of ways they defended the indefensible. They were, in other words, intellectually and morally corrupted.
Now that Trump has been elected they seem even less inclined to oppose him, just as we long predicted. Whether it is fidelity to the Constitution or an acute national security threat, their overriding concern remains the same. Their default setting, if you will, is always partisan loyalty. When it comes to Russia, not since the Cold War — when the left carried water for America’s enemy — have we seen such flagrant abdication of responsibility and willingness to adopt foreign propaganda. They will imperil the country and disgrace themselves if they continue to enable a president-elect to put his own interests above America’s.
UPDATE: To his credit McConnell stepped up to the plate. “Obviously any foreign breach of our cybersecurity measures is disturbing, and I strongly condemn any such efforts,” he said at his news conference. “It’s an important subject and we intend to review it on a bipartisan basis. The Russians are not our friends.” The last sentence may be the most important.