GOP ‘pa­tri­ots’ should be out­raged at Rus­sian in­trigue

The Columbus Dispatch - - Opinion/forum - MARTIN SCHRAM Mart­inSchram writes for the Tri­bune News Ser­vice. martin.schram@gmail.com

The Fam­ily Trump is out­raged that the fake me­dia has re­fused to take them at their word.

Es­pe­cially when President Don­ald Trump has re­peat­edly said he re­ally isn’t sure that Rus­sia — or any­one else, for that mat­ter — tried to sub­vert the 2016 U.S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

But what is most out­ra­geous to the rest of us now is a mind-bog­gling lack of out­rage from so many fa­mous names of the Repub­li­can Party. Even af­ter we all have just heard and read the chain of de­lib­er­ately de­ceit­ful words of Trump, his el­dest son, Don­ald Jr., and his in­ner­cir­cle acolytes, who still are try­ing to hide what they knew about Rus­sia’s ef­fort to at­tack Amer­ica’s democ­racy with cy­ber-weapons.

The CIA, FBI, NSA and Di­rec­tor of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence dis­closed last fall that Rus­sia hacked and leaked Demo­cratic emails to help the Repub­li­can can­di­date win. Next time, Rus­sia or some other for­eign ad­ver­sary may well seek to de­feat the Repub­li­cans and elect Democrats, or maybe even an­other new party.

And the Repub­li­can lead­ers ever since the end of World War II would have known that and de­manded firm ac­tion to de­fend Amer­ica’s po­lit­i­cal sys­tem, just as they moved vig­or­ously to halt all for­eign ad­ver­saries who sought to in­vade, in­fil­trate or oth­er­wise at­tack Amer­ica’s home­land dur­ing the Cold War.

Yet most of to­day’s Repub­li­can lead­ers are con­tent to mum­ble a few plat­i­tudes and not de­mand more from their own party’s max­i­mum leader.

Even af­ter they have read the lat­est dis­clo­sure of Don­ald Jr.’s 2016 erup­tion of en­thu­si­asm af­ter be­ing of­fered help, al­legedly in the form of Rus­sian gov­ern­ment info in­crim­i­nat­ing Hil­lary Clin­ton.

A Krem­lin-con­nected pub­li­cist, Rob Gold­stone, whom the Trumps knew, emailed him on June 3, 2016, with what he called an “ul­tra sen­si­tive” of­fer to con­nect the Trump cam­paign with in­crim­i­nat­ing ev­i­dence against Hil­lary Clin­ton that would be “part of Rus­sia and its gov­ern­ment’s sup­port for Mr. Trump.”

Just 17 min­utes later, Don­ald Jr. gushed his re­ply: “(I)f it’s what you say I love it es­pe­cially later in the sum­mer.”

Days later, the meet­ing was set up Don­ald Jr.’s Trump Tower of­fice and was also at­tended by Trump son-in-law Jared Kush­ner and cam­paign man­ager Paul Manafort. Don­ald Jr. says the con­tact never brought up ul­tra-sen­si­tive info but in­stead just talked about her long­time ef­fort to re­solve a con­tro­versy over adop­tions of Rus­sian chil­dren by U.S. cou­ples.

Whether or not that is true is still un­cer­tain.

A month later, CNN’s Jake Tap­per asked Don­ald Jr. about a Clin­ton of­fi­cial’s claim that Rus­sia was be­hind the hacks of Demo­cratic party emails as part of an ef­fort to help Trump and de­feat Clin­ton. Don­ald Jr. in­sisted at length this was all fake news.

“(T)his is time and time again, lie af­ter lie. … It’s dis­gust­ing. It’s so phony. … I mean, I can’t think of big­ger lies. … It’s dis­gust­ing and the peo­ple … should be fed up be­cause when I heard it I cer­tainly was.”

Even as re­cently as just be­fore his meet­ing this month with Rus­sian President Vladimir Putin at the G7 gath­er­ing in Ger­many, Trump was still in­sist­ing he didn’t know if it was Rus­sia or some­body else who had hacked and leaked the Democrats’ emails.

In­deed, Trump went along with Putin’s idea that the two na­tions team up in a joint cy­ber­se­cu­rity ef­fort. But the idea was im­me­di­ately ridiculed back in the U.S.A., as an­a­lysts scoffed analo­gies about foxes guard­ing hen houses.

But two old-school Repub­li­can pa­tri­ots, Sens. John McCain of Ari­zona and Lind­sey Gra­ham of South Carolina, led the crit­ics. “It’s not the dumb­est idea I’ve ever heard, but it’s pretty close,” said Gra­ham. This time, they won, as Trump even­tu­ally backed away from the plan, al­beit on tip-toes.

But McCain’s fel­low Ari­zo­nan Barry Gold­wa­ter and, of course, Ron­ald Rea­gan would be shocked and sad­dened by the shat­ter­ing sound of si­lence com­ing from many lead­ers of the party that once thought it had cor­nered the mar­ket on pa­tri­o­tism.

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