The Inexcusable Republican ‘Soft-Response’ to Trump’s Russia Scandal

Rep. Scott Taylor, a Republican Iraq War veteran, called Russia a “frenemy” of the United States. While quick to say “I’m not taking up for him [Trump]” he’s “just learning on the job and that’s a fact.”

The trouble is, we can legitimately ask whether Trump is “learning” anything. This was Mark Cuban’s point of departure from Trump, his inability or refusal to learn. He watches a lot of TV and tweets, but his intel briefings are one page long with lots of charts and bullet points.

Corey Lewandowski is claiming that Trump’s staff (and remember, Trump says he hires only “the best people”) is letting him down.

“The staff has probably not prepared him as well as they could have or should have,” Lewandowski claimed on CNN. But what happens on a president’s watch is, ultimately, the president’s responsibility. The old German lament, “If only the Fuhrer knew” is not an excuse here.

The impression that comes across rather is one of a president who really isn’t all that interested. He hears something on TV and responds to that. His excuse for his inexcusable lie about a Swedish terror attack is that he saw something on Fox News.

It is unknown – and certainly open to legitimate doubt – if intel briefings leave anything like the same impression on him. The absence of actual facts in his tweets argue against it.

Bill Kristol, editor of the conservative Weekly Standard, asked last night, “Honest Q for conservatives who aren’t just working with or around Trump, but rationalizing him: In your heart, don’t you know you’re wrong?”

As he also said, and this is very important,

Never mind for a moment that it is conservatism and the Republican Party that made Trump possible in the first place. The point is still a valid one, and Republicans are failing. The “why” is just more obvious to the rest of us than to a blinkered Bill Kristol.

Another Republican veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) appeared on CNN’s New Day this morning, and his take was a little different than Rep. Taylor’s. According to Kinzinger, speaking of the Flynn Scandal, “the cover-up, in this case, is worse than the crime.”

According to Rep. Kinzinger, “we need answers” though he argued against letting this become a “partisan issue” that the intelligence committees need to investigate and get answers.

Unfortunately, far too few Republicans seem eager to contain Trump, let alone transcend him – or even question him.

We see rationalizing in abundance, a normalization of every example of Trump extremism. Even Rep. Taylor, in cautioning that “words matter” because the world is watching, seems to want to avoid criticizing Trump too strongly. His comments about Trump learning on the job smacks more of excuse making than explanation.

Even Kinzinger allowed that he didn’t know if Flynn’s discussion with the Russians about Obama’s sanctions, while “wrong” was “illegal” but this is about as strong a reprimand as we get from Republicans.

You know how bad it’s has gotten when it’s left to Fox News’ Chris Wallace to tell off Reince Priebus on air.

The GOP has failed America. They have permitted a would-be tyrant to ascend to the presidency and now that he is there, they have refused not only to fight him but in Kristol’s words, even to “contain” him. And as Paul Krugman and others have warned, the consequences of not containing Trump are very serious indeed.