Saturday, January 30, 2021

Putin's Man In Washington

The Washington Post editorializes

For a moment, it seemed as if the Republican Party might exorcise former president Donald Trump. After four years of submission, GOP leaders were telling the truth. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declared that Mr. Trump had “provoked” the Jan. 6 Capitol invasion, having “fed lies” to the rioters. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) said Mr. Trump “bears responsibility” for refusing to calm the insurrectionists. There was talk that enough GOP senators might be willing to join Democrats to convict the former president in an impeachment trial.

Days later, the era of glasnost seems to be ending. Senior Republicans are crawling back to Mr. Trump. The big lie of election fraud lives on. It is a sad turn for a once great party.

Barely three weeks after Mr. Trump’s mob stormed the Capitol, Mr. McCarthy traveled on Thursday to Mar-a-Lago, the former president’s Florida home, to kiss the ring. The apparent goal was to patch up his relationship with Mr. Trump following Mr. McCarthy’s mild acknowledgment of Mr. Trump’s guilt. The visit caps an apology tour in which the House minority leader walked back his criticism of Mr. Trump, at one point absurdly remarking that not just the former president but “everybody across this country” bears some responsibility for the Capitol riot.

In May of 2017, a national security reporter for the Post revealed

A month before Donald Trump clinched the Republican nomination, one of his closest allies in Congress — House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy — made a politically explosive assertion in a private conversation on Capitol Hill with his fellow GOP leaders: that Trump could be the beneficiary of payments from Russian President Vladimir Putin.

“There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy (R-Calif.) said, according to a recording of the June 15, 2016, exchange, which was listened to and verified by The Washington Post. Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is a Californian Republican known in Congress as a fervent defender of Putin and Russia.....

Some of the lawmakers laughed at McCarthy’s comment. Then McCarthy quickly added: “Swear to God.”

Ryan instructed his Republican lieutenants to keep the conversation private, saying: “No leaks. . . . This is how we know we’re a real family here.”

We know the then-Majority Leader wasn't speaking off the top of his head because

Before the conversation, McCarthy and Ryan had emerged from separate talks at the Capitol with Ukrainian Prime Minister Vladi­mir Groysman, who had described a Kremlin tactic of financing populist politicians to undercut Eastern European democratic institutions.

Notwithstanding his interest in real estate in Russia, Donald Trump probably never has been directly paid by Vladimir Putin; it hasn't been necessary.  In the recently published "American Kompromat," investigative journalist Craig Unger explains that the real estate mogul was an easy target for Russian intelligence because of his excessive vanity, narcissism, greed, and ignorance.  Trump was cultivated for approximately 40 years and became a Russian asset "used to channel active measures to influential people in the U.S.," according to this review.

Though once having stated that the then-President is on the take from Vladimir Putin, the House GOP leader now has declared "everybody across this country has some responsibility" for the January 6 capitol riot. Then he travels to Mar-a-Lago to kiss the ring (and maybe more)  of a demagogue who has lost all his public office, his authority, and the bully pulpit of the presidency. Country and constituency are trumped by the lust for power.

Those "senior Republicans" are crawling back of their own free will to an authoritarian who no longer has power. Chief among them is Kevin McCarthy, who recognized a few years ago a cozy relationship between the Russian regime and Donald J. Trump, with whom he is quite pleased..


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