Cracks Appearing in Trump Unity: Sens Want Sanctions on Putin Prior to Fall Summit

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Gage Skidmore / Flickr Lindsey Graham...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Senators Graham and Rubio are leading the Republican side to quickly enact newer, harsher sanctions in light of the Robert Mueller’s findings within the indictments. Time is of the essence and  Congress will have to act fast, both Senators want the new sanctions in place well ahead of any fall summit and, of course, the 2018 mid-term elections.

As per a Raw Story report “You need to work with Congress to come up with new sanctions because Putin’s not getting the message,” said Graham on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “We need new sanctions, heavy-handed sanctions, hanging over his head, and then meet with him.”

The fallout from Trump’s refusal to confront Russia during the Helsinki Summit continues to impact near every political concern, particularly within the Republican party. Congressman Trey Gowdy – no friend of Robert Mueller’s, and often a Trump apologist – juxtaposed against Trump by questioning the wisdom of welcoming Putin to the White House, and doing so by bringing up three interesting countries with which Trump has had issues:

Talking to Putin about matters such as the civil war in Syria, Gowdy said, “is very different from issuing an invitation. Those should be reserved for, I think, our allies like Great Britain and Canada and Australia and those who are with us day in and day out.” Gowdy made his remarks during an interview on television’s “Fox News Sunday.”

In my analysis, Trump’s humiliation in Helsinki and then unilateral decision to invite Putin to the White House, combined with Robert Mueller’s undeniable evidence is finally bringing about the political fault lines that Republicans will no longer be able to straddle, fault lines many of us believed would have formed long ago, only to see stunning unity.

Gowdy went after Peter Strzok with a contemptuous tone, just a day before Robert Mueller released his latest indictments, and a few days prior to the Russian summit. I personally do not believe Gowdy could or would perform the same partisan hatchet job if the Strzok hearing were held this week. Gowdy is an extreme partisan, capable of mind-blowing hipocrisy, yet he is one of the smarter ones. I believe he chose the nations he named, Great Britain, Canada, and Australia with care. The three nations certainly are what most Americans would name as among our closest allies, yet Trump has made personal trouble with each. Gowdy is one of the few House Republicans with the depth to be able to speak on two levels and may have been sending the White House a signal in whom he named. The signal would inherently carry a warning; “My support is not unlimited or unquestioned.”

That will be the rub for all Republicans as Trump continues to move ever closer to Putin, pushing further, perhaps lasting, damage against NATO. The revelations in the Mueller indictment are a clarion call to action, our nation is in undergoing a 21st century cyber-invasion. Responsible Republicans want Russia punished, harshly, and prevented from acting again. Yet, the very act of doing so gives weight and credence to the Mueller investigation itself. One does not enact new stiff sanctions against a country based upon a witch hunt, a “discredited investigation,” by “13 angry Democrats,” propagated by the “fake news” media as a hoax to atone for Hillary.

Moreover, the sanctions under consideration, called the DETER Act, presume presidential inaction, even hostility. They are thus designed to be more automatic and aim to punish Russia’s finance, energy, defense and other sectors. Trump could not possibly support such legislation as he moves closer and closer to Putin and his autocratic style and further from traditional American ideals and allies, such as Canada, Great Britain and Australia. The Democrats will support the legislation, and most, but not all, Republicans will.

Now consider that Mueller’s biggest hammers have yet to slam into the  courthouse steps. Mueller will surely have evidence against Americans and it will be more specific and compelling, many or all named will be within the Trump orbit. Having already enacted legislation based upon Mueller’s findings, Republicans will have less ability to swivel and support Trump’s declarations that the investigation is biased and “discredited.”

We know that some Republicans will support Trump right through the last wave of the tiny hand on the helicopter. But fault lines are already forming between those apologists versus the Republicans that see they’ve milked this cow dry and want to remain on the right side of history. An election looms. Trump remains popular among the average Republican voters, but we have yet to see polling that reflects all that’s occurred in the last 2 weeks.  If those polls show a noticeable dip, if legislation against Russia begins to move, if the trade wars heat up, the Democrats could find themselves essentially running against a divided Republican party. We will call them the “Trumplicans” and “the Homeless.”

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