Repub­li­cans shrug off lat­est Trump Rus­sia twist

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

Emails re­leased by Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s el­dest son de­tail­ing com­mu­ni­ca­tions with Rus­sians have pro­voked a col­lec­tive shrug from many Repub­li­cans in Congress.

Scant new con­cern was ev­i­dent from Repub­li­can lead­er­ship on down, de­spite the rev­e­la­tion of an email chain show­ing that Trump’s son ea­gerly ac­cepted help from what was de­scribed to him as a Rus­sian gov­ern­ment ef­fort to aid his fa­ther’s cam­paign.

On Wed­nes­day, a day af­ter Don­ald Trump Jr. re­leased the emails him­self, House Speaker Paul Ryan said it was un­ac­cept­able that Rus­sia med­dled in the elec­tions but de­flected spe­cific ques­tions. He cited the Depart­ment of Jus­tice’s spe­cial coun­sel and con­gres­sional in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

“I think it’s very im­por­tant that th­ese pro­fes­sion­als in th­ese com­mit­tees do their jobs so that we can get to the bot­tom of all of this,” Ryan said.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell did the same on Tues­day.

“The in­ves­ti­ga­tion in the Se­nate’s be­ing han­dled by the In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, and I’m sure they’ll get to the bot­tom of what­ever may have hap­pened,” McCon­nell, R-Ky., told re­porters ask­ing about his views on the mat­ter.

McCon­nell gave sim­i­lar re­sponses when asked whether he still trusts the pres­i­dent on Rus­sia is­sues, and whether he him­self re­grets not tak­ing ac­tion af­ter get­ting briefed last fall, along with other high-level House and Se­nate law­mak­ers of both par­ties, about Rus­sia’s at­tempted med­dling in the U.S. elec­tion.

Trump Jr., along with sev­eral White House of­fi­cials, has re­peat­edly de­nied any col­lu­sion with any­one tied to the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment. But the emails he posted on Twit­ter — shortly prior to pub­li­ca­tion by The New York Times — in­di­cated that mem­bers of the pres­i­dent’s in­ner cam­paign cir­cle met with Rus­sians whom they knew wanted Trump to pre­vail.

U.S. in­tel­li­gence agen­cies have said the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment med­dled in the elec­tion to aid Trump. Al­though the pres­i­dent him­self has yet to fully em­brace that con­clu­sion, in­ves­ti­ga­tions are un­der way by the House and Se­nate in­tel­li­gence com­mit­tees as well as the spe­cial coun­sel ap­pointed by the Jus­tice Depart­ment, Robert Mueller.

As the story has de­vel­oped, most con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans have down­played new news and de­ferred to the in­ves­ti­ga­tions un­der way. Tues­day was no different, de­spite at­tempts by mi­nor­ity Democrats to stoke out­rage.

“I think that’s overblown,” said Sen. Or­rin Hatch of Utah, a se­nior Repub­li­can, de­scrib­ing Don­ald Trump Jr. as “a very nice young man.”

“One of the things that en­dears the pres­i­dent to me is how nice his chil­dren are. And they all love him. So, and he di­vorced their moth­ers, and they love him,” Hatch said.

Democrats were pre­dictably fu­ri­ous. The top Democrat on the House In­tel­li­gence Com­mit­tee, Cal­i­for­nia Rep. Adam Schiff, said the emails are “ob­vi­ously very sig­nif­i­cant, deeply dis­turb­ing, new pub­lic in­for­ma­tion about di­rect con­tacts be­tween the Rus­sian gov­ern­ment and its in­ter­me­di­aries and the very cen­tre of the Trump fam­ily, cam­paign and or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

AP PHOTO

Don­ald Trump Jr., left, is in­ter­viewed by host Sean Han­nity on his Fox News Chan­nel tele­vi­sion pro­gram, in New York Tues­day.

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