Trump Plays Putin’s Patsy In Front Of The Whole World. What If He Gets Away With It?
This morning we woke to a sobering thought: what if Trump gets away with it? What if his base laps it up because it’s driving the people crazy who they like to see driven crazy like never before? What if his party comes to see it as the ultimate test of loyalty? What if the unnamed advisers and members of his own staff, the “everyone around Trump” whom the Washington Post assures us did not approve of what the President did or said never come out and say that publicly? Anyway, we’re not totally buying that, because we don’t believe the President himself wrote the platitude he’s hiding behind on Twitter this morning (which was also part of his prepared statement after the Putin meeting): “I would rather take a political risk in pursuit of peace than to risk peace in pursuit of politics.” (And it comes with a photo showing he’s taller than Putin). And if people in his own party and his own people don’t step up finally now, what’s going to stop him from wreaking whatever future havoc he wants with virtually zero fear of censure or repercussions?
So far, response from Washington has been loud in only just a few places:
Democrats of course damned the President’s words and actions. Especially Trump’s assertion that both sides are responsible (while making sure to explain that doesn’t include him). And yes, some Trump boosters and apologists couldn’t immediately muster their typical full-throated defense, and instead quickly maneuvered to throw the President a lifeline instead. Notably, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who Tweeted:
Folks whom Trump has designated as enemies, such as former C.I.A. Chief John Brennan, were particularly venomous in their condemnation. (And we believe justifiably so, or we wouldn’t be sharing it with you).
So too Republican Senator John McCain who issued a lengthy statement saying in part:
“Today’s press conference in Helsinki was one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory. The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naiveté, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake.”
And his fellow Arizona Senator Jeff Flake who Tweeted:
But all of them are already outspoken Trump critics.
Those who are still uncertain about how all this is going to play with Trump’s base are being a lot more cagey. For instance, Arkansas Republican Senator Tom Cotton issued a reasonably strong revocation of a lot of what Trump did and said. Cotton begins by asserting: “Vladimir Putin is a committed adversary of the United States.” And he tags Russia for campaign “meddling” right off the bat. Except… Cotton leaves one very important word out of his page-long screed. A name, actually. Starting with “T” and ending with “rump”.
There is an incredibly easy next step Congress can take!
There is a bill already on the table; already passed by the Judiciary Committee, that can be voted on by the full Senate almost immediately. It would protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from an attempt by Trump to fire him.
Back in April it was approved by the Committee 14–7, meaning 4 Republicans supported moving it to the Senate floor.
That doesn’t mean it would’ve passed the full Senate: the Committee Chair, Iowa Republican Chuck Grassley said he voted in favor in Committee because he felt it deserved a full Senate vote, not because he was going to ultimately back it. And anyway Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to bring it to the floor for a vote because he felt the bill was “not necessary”. And anyway the House probably wouldn’t have passed it even if the Senate did. And anyway the President probably wouldn’t sign it, and it’d never get a veto-proof majority.
But now…? (Actually, right now there’s zero indication Republicans want to get this ball rolling again.)
But how about it? How about maybe that as a start for Republicans to prove they’re still actually Patriots deep down and not toadies?