Media pundits often wonder why Republicans have turned a blind eye to and refused to call out the myriad and fairly well-documented behaviors of both Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin’s Russian government, which gravely undermine the U.S.’s national security, interfere in our election processes, and generally influence the White House to pursue policy that serves interests other than those of the American people.
And when it comes to impeachment, we even often hear Democrats fantasize about getting republicans on board.
The prevailing wisdom has been that Republicans don’t stand up to Trump because (1) they are afraid of the barrage of twitter attacks he will unleash on them if they criticize him, harming their relationship with their pro-Trump base and thus their chances at re-election, and (2) Trump pushes through the policies they want in terms of tax cuts, de-regulation, and so forth; and he also helps them pack the courts with severely conservative and intensely ideological justices who will aid and abet them in assaulting women’s reproductive rights, undermining union and workers’ rights (e.g. the Janus ruling), rolling back voter protections, endorsing gerrymandering, and on and on.
The investigation into Trump’s mob-routine with Ukraine (hey, I need a favor; lemme make you an offer you can’t refuse), however, is beginning to reveal much more.
It’s not just Trump who’s consorting with Russians and accepting their money to support his campaigns, and thus tacitly agreeing to do the bidding of Russia whether it serves the interests of the American people or not.
The Republicans are in on it, too.
Former Texas Republican Representative Pete Sessions reportedly accepted money from Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, the two Soviet-born businessman recently arrested for U.S. campaign finance violations. This same report also implicates House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and South Carolina Republican Representative Joe Wilson for having accepted donations as well. Remember when Joe Wilson called President Obama a liar in the middle of one his State of the Union addresses? Now who’s the liar, Joe!?
And the Tampa Bay Times reports that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis accepted and has now returned a $50,000 donation from Parnas and Fruman, and that U.S. Republican Senator Rick Scott also accepted money from these Russian-rooted operatives.
And remember when Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska just happened to build an aluminum plant in Mitch McConnell’s home state of Kentucky?
For a good while commentators and analysts have tried to separate Trump from the rest of the Republican party, seeing the party as a whole as not complicit in Trump’s questionable and corrupt self-serving deals.
It now turns out that many of them are in on it. Now we know why they deny the many truths regarding Russian interference and, yes, even collusion the Mueller report details.
It’s not just that they’re afraid of him or that they need him to push their policies and stack the court.
They’re in on it too. Russia is backing them too.
The Republican party is, we now know, truly the party of Trump, by which we mean Putin.
So, in 2020, it won’t be enough to oust Trump to rid our politics of the Russian corruption and infection; we’ll need to remove Republicans.
Tim Libretti is a professor of U.S. literature and culture at a state university in Chicago. A long-time progressive voice, he has published many academic and journalistic articles on culture, class, race, gender, and politics, for which he has received awards from the Working Class Studies Association, the International Labor Communications Association, the National Federation of Press Women, and the Illinois Woman’s Press Association.