MSNBC's Joe Scarborough said President Donald Trump's invitation to Russian president Vladimir Putin was "political suicide" for his Republican congressional majority -- and proved he was effectively owned by the Kremlin.
The president apparently invited Putin to visit the White House just ahead of this year's midterm elections -- which caught his staffers off guard -- and the "Morning Joe" host and MSNBC analyst John Heilmann were dumbfounded.
"It's a moment that we will remember, I think, historically, and it's kind of astonishing on a million levels," Heilemann said.
Trump evidently made the invitation during his private, one-on-one meeting with the Russian president, who would visit the White House just weeks before Americans vote.
"That speaks to the extraordinary leverage that Vladimir Putin has over Donald Trump," Heilemann said. "We still don't know exactly why, but it's an incredible thing."
Scarborough said those reasons would remain a mystery until they were revealed by special counsel Robert Mueller or historians, but he and Heilemann agreed the visit could be devastating to GOP candidates in swing districts.
"It's political suicide," Heilemann said.
Scarborough and Heilemann also agreed that Republicans finally seemed ready to challenge the president after he appeased Putin in Helsinki.
"They all, in various ways, are trying to signal that something is wrong here," Heilemann said. "What we saw from Donald Trump in Helsinki and what we've seen in the aftermath of Helsinki suggests that something is not just wrong but deeply dangerous."
"I think you are starting to see some kind of shift in the tectonic plates in the way the government is dealing with Donald Trump and in particular the way your former party is dealing with him," he added. "This may be a week that history remembers."