Democrats attack 'shameless' Republicans for running a 'lawless cult' that refuses to hold Trump accountable
Donald Trump (Trump photo via AFP)

WASHINGTON — Several Democratic members told Raw Story on Wednesday that they're worried about the situation with the stolen government documents at Donald Trump's country club in Palm Beach, Florida and the impact it will have on American national security and relationships with allies.

Rep. Eric Swalwell (D-CA) returned to the Capitol this week along with other lawmakers after the August Recess. Speaking to Raw Story he emphasized that one of the biggest contrasts between Democrats and Republicans who want to be in the House Majority is that the GOP wants to focus on defending Trump.

"We want to build on what we've done for people," Swalwell said about Democrats. "They want to be in the majority to fight for Donald Trump and that's the biggest contrast. They'll spend their time in the majority as his criminal defense lawyers. It'll be the largest law firm he has. The House [GOP] Majority."

Senators returning to Washington had similar thoughts, telling Raw Story last week that they're waiting on the next steps in the intelligence officials to do a briefing on the impact the documents have on national security.

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A member of the House Intelligence Committee, Swalwell explained that it should be easy to understand that what Trump did was not acceptable for anyone, much less for a former president.

"He took top secret documents it looks like for a long time they were willing to just get them back and then it became clear he wasn't going to give them back," Swalwell explained. "He no longer was worthy of the benefit of the doubt. And it looks like there was a movement of those documents or an obstruction to get them. And you look at a guy who has priors with leveraging $300 million of taxpayer dollars with the Ukrainians to get dirt on Joe Biden and you must think, well, what's he doing with these documents? He's not worth the benefit of the doubt. You should assume the worst with the guy."

Swalwell went on to say that someone can't keep documents like that for a year in a place that isn't secure.

"I call them documents, secrets, top secret information," he continued. "So, I think they gave him every opportunity to give top secret information back. He didn't. So, I think they had to assume the worst and they had to go in. And I think he's probably going to be held criminally accountable."

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Rep. Veronica Escobar (D-TX) called Trump a "lawless dangerous man" for the theft of the documents and an 18 months-long refusals to return them.

It was a sentiment shared by his Maryland colleague Dutch Ruppersberger (D), who agreed that Trump "has turned his back" on a lot of things that are important to Americans. There's nothing in the Constitution that says if you break a law the former president won't be held responsible.

Escobar noted that she knew the second Trump said that he could shoot a person on Fifth Avenue and get away with it that he was right.

"When we think about what would horrify us with regard to former elected officials," she continued. "Back to back impeachments. Zelensky 'will you do me a favor though,' we would want to throw out local elected officials that would want to bribe people. Use the power of their office to bribe people. That was OK for Republicans."

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Ruppersberger, who previously served as the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee, worked as the Chief of the State's Attorney Office Investigative Division in Maryland, where he worked to pursue organized crime, political corruption and drug trafficking. He explained that he has long been nervous about Trump's close relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Look at how he would respond to Putin. He would never criticize Putin," Ruppersberger. "This is the United States of America. We're a democracy. We care about freedoms and liberty. And that wasn't what he was about. That's not his message. And I am a bipartisan Democrat. I work with Republicans and Democrats for what's right for the country. And that's what we need and what we want. You can have different philosophical issues and points of view, but not when it's going to hurt our country."

Republicans have continued to criticize federal law enforcement, going so far as to demand that the FBI be completely defunded. Ruppersberger said that like any profession there are one or two people who were rotten, but that the FBI is dedicated to serving America and keeping the country safe.

"But with Trump, you see where his priorities are for the United States when he backed off working with NATO and other people," said Ruppersberger.

Escobar explained that everyone, Republicans and Democrats, who have to go into the secure room known as the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility (SCIF) must "honor the national security obligation with our position. And with that top secret clearance that we don't talk about what's in there. We wouldn't dare take any of those materials out. But they're OK with Donald Trump doing it? It is a lawless cult."

Trump's support of blanket pardons for Jan. 6 attackers proves exactly who Trump is when it comes to his support for laws and law enforcement, he said. "It's all about him and what he thinks what's best for him and not what's best for our country."

Ruppersberger explained that the country may have had presidents that weren't perfect or that we didn't agree with, but it was never a question of whether they acted in their own interests. He said that as a Democrat who works with national security officials a lot he has a lot of friends and people he knows that are in the field. He said he just wishes that Republicans would stop simply voting 100 percent against something all the time and consider what's best for the country.

"They will contort themselves to defend Donald Trump," Escobar said of Republicans. "It is a lawless cult. These are not 'law and order' people who defend him. These are not people who have any respect for the oath that they took. They make themselves more and more transparent with every one of Trump's crimes that become known. I hope that one day they look back on this with shame. But it's hard to say because they're pretty shameless."

"We've got a lot of issues we have to deal with, but the number one is democracy in the world and we have to promote that if we want to have the quality of life that we're used to," Ruppersberger explained. "I love my country. And when you serve your country you represent. And a lot of people don't like you just because you have a point of view and that's not right."