The New York Times reports: “Democrats and Republicans in Congress demanded on Monday that American intelligence agencies promptly share with lawmakers what they know about a suspected Russian plot to pay bounties to the Taliban to kill American troops in Afghanistan, and threatened to retaliate against the Kremlin.” The White House press secretary and president have been so inconsistent in their responses to questions on the subject — as simple as whether President Trump was briefed — that we still do not know whether Trump was egregiously indifferent to intelligence matters or willing to let Russian President Vladimir Putin pay militants to kill our troops. The latter sounds horrendous even for Trump, but the former underscores just how unfit he is to serve as commander in chief.

The problem with Republicans’ newfound interest in Trump’s treacherous conduct is that the president knows that, when push comes to shove, they can be pushed aside. “In the Republican-controlled Senate, James Inhofe of Oklahoma, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, said he had asked for information as well and expected to know more on the matter ‘in the coming days.’” What makes Inhofe think that Trump would respond to a mere request after he successfully stonewalled subpoenas on the Ukraine scandal?

Republicans’ tougher language rings hollow in light of their attitude toward Trump’s past betrayal of American interests. The Times reports:

Representative Mac Thornberry of Texas, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, said Mr. Trump’s tweet suggesting he had not been made aware of the reports was “a very concerning statement.”
“Anything with any hint of credibility that would endanger our service members, much less put a bounty on their lives, to me should have been briefed immediately to the commander in chief and a plan to deal with that situation,” he said.

Very concerned. Deeply troubled. Unfortunately, they were not concerned when it really mattered as to whether Trump had betrayed U.S. interests by holding back aid to Ukraine in the middle of a hot war against Russia. Trump, it seems, is willing to give a hand to Russian fighters — just not Americans.

Sen. Marco Rubio’s threat of “vigorous oversight” is laughable given the Florida Republican’s disinclination to do anything regarding Trump’s serial scandals — from Ukraine, to alleged efforts to enlist China to help his reelection, to hiding notes taken during meetings between Trump and Putin.

Even less credible is Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), who never met a pseudo-scandal about President Barack Obama that did not rivet him nor a legitimate one about Trump that did. He has now decided that it is very troubling indeed to see Trump turning a blind eye toward Russian aggression. The Hill reports:

“I’ve been hearing from military families in Nebraska constantly for the last 36 hours, and they’re livid,” he said. “This is a story about the targeting of American men and women in uniform. This is about putting crosshairs on the backs of people who are fighting for our freedom. This is not about short-term politics.”
Sasse said Congress “is broken” and needs to pull together to “get to the bottom of two questions.”
“Who knew what when inside the administration? Did the commander in chief know? If not, why the heck not? What’s going on in that process?” he said.

Sasse has known for years that the “process” is nonexistent in this White House, has had the benefit of former national security adviser John Bolton’s revelations and has heard the overwhelming evidence of impeachable conduct during Trump’s Senate trial. Now, we are expected to believe that Sasse really, really wants to know what is going on?

Senate Republicans can read the polls. They know Trump is sinking fast and — suddenly! — have decided as members of an equal branch that they should be investigating Trump’s gross malfeasance. If they really want to be taken seriously, they would:

  • Call Bolton to testify;
  • Admit gross error in exonerating Trump on Ukraine;
  • End support for his reelection;
  • Call for his resignation.

Do not hold your breath. There is zero chance they will do anything like that — or even seek to enforce subpoenas if Trump again stonewalls. They know there is no good explanation for Trump’s conduct, so now they want the voters to know they really, really do not like Trump siding with Russia. This is 3½ years too late. They have helped create a monster in the Oval Office, someone willing to betray U.S. interests for his own personal or political ends. Without their continued support, Trump would not be in office, still endangering American national security.

Both Trump and Republicans in the House and Senate have failed in the most basic obligation to protect and defend the Constitution and to bring to heel foreign adversaries. Voters can render their verdict in November, one that we hope will be more attuned to facts, logic and patriotic duty than the Senate’s verdict on impeachment.

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