A New York Times report Sunday cited several elected Republicans fearful their party is so dedicated to President Donald Trump that opposing him will be their undoing.
“We have indulged myths and fabrications, pretended it wasn’t so bad, and our indulgence got us the capitulation in Helsinki,” said outgoing Rep. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), in a floor speech last week. “We in the Senate who have been elected to represent our constituents cannot be enablers of falsehoods.”
But polls show that 66 percent of Republican voters support the president's Helsinki incident, even if 50 percent of Americans disapprove. It can spell disaster for any incumbent stuck in a Republican primary against a follower of the president.
“There’s nothing you can do to stop a president, let alone this president, from saying what he thinks or what he wants to say,” said Rep. Ryan Costello (R-PA). He was one of few GOP members to break with his party in protecting Mueller's job. “I think a lot of Republicans feel it’s not worth engaging because all you do is upset a lot of Republican voters.”
“I’ve said it over and over again, I’ve said it to the president,” said Sen Bob Corker (R-TN). “If we have problems, let’s fix them, but when you start trying to cause Americans purposefully to distrust the Department of Justice or the F.B.I., you’re doing tremendous damage to our nation.”
For once, Democrats and a few Republicans have come together for a bipartisan demand to protect national security.
“The road to the Helsinki disaster was paved by Republican inaction every time Trump overstepped,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY). “Their silence, their acquiescence to things they know are wrong have given Trump the extra jolt he needed.”
Those on team Trump, like Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are seeking to blame former President Barack Obama for Trump's relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Their spin is that if Obama had acted against Putin or made it public that Russians were trying to meet with Trump's children and his staffers, somehow none of this would have happened.
Sean Hannity, Fox News host and senior advisor to Trump, tested this new messaging theory on his show in wake of the Helsinki press conference. He finally admitted that the 2016 election had been hacked.
If Republicans wanted to hold hearings that had nothing to do with Trump specifically, at least six other incidents have occurred in which Russia impacted American security or were linked to policy reversals. Congress hasn't investigated.
Rep. Devin Nunes (R-CA) has spread conspiracy theories, stopped Democrats from calling critical witnesses and ultimately shut down the investigation after a meeting with the White House. Democrats responded by calling for Nunes to be stripped from his chairmanship of the committee, but Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) refused.
“He’s focusing on keeping our country safe, focused on national security,” Ryan said of Nunes in February.