On Wednesday, writing for The Bulwark, conservative Charlie Sykes criticized former President Donald Trump for his demand for Vladimir Putin to leak dirt on President Joe Biden's family — and declared it not just an attack on the president, but on the whole United States.
"This was not taken out of context, nor was it a gotcha take. His own spokeswoman enthusiastically tweeted out his plea to Putin," wrote Sykes. "It is as if he is recapitulating all of his most egregious scandals — from 'Russia, if you’re listening' to 'I would like you to do us a favor' — multiplied by a factor of genocide."
It is bad enough, wrote Sykes, that Trump is saying this at a moment when Russia is conducting a brutal campaign in Ukraine. But it goes further than that, he argued: the way he even phrased his request of Putin betrays something worse.
"Here’s where we come to the treasonous smoking gun: Trump explicitly frames his request to Putin as an act of retaliation not just against Biden, but against the United States itself," wrote Sykes. "Some accounts leave out the key phrase that Trump uses when he explains why Putin might help him. 'As long as Putin is not exactly a fan of our country... I would think Putin would know the answer to that. I think he should release it... you won't get the answer from Ukraine... I think Putin now would be willing to probably give that answer.'"
That line, Sykes argued, proves Trump knows Putin's agenda, and by extension anything he would agree to do on Trump's behalf, is in opposition to America.
"Republicans, defend this. Go ahead. Try. Don’t dodge or hedge. Defend your leader’s partnership in slime and blood with Vladimir Putin," wrote Sykes. Tell me again that he learned his lesson. Explain again that you think the whole Russia thing was a hoax. Justify putting this defeated, disgraced, twice-impeached deplorable back in the Oval Office. And make the case for giving the nuclear codes back to this scabrous traitor."
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