As the nation digests the latest blockbuster developments in the case of the Russian asset in the Oval Office, don’t forget the powerful domestic assistance Trump got in this election from Republican leadership in Congress.
If the infamous private musings of House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy in June 2016 are any indication, Trump’s indebtedness to Putin was just assumed. “There’s two people I think Putin pays: Rohrabacher and Trump,” McCarthy quipped, a conversation quickly nipped in the bud by House Speaker Paul Ryan. “No leaks,” he immediately interjected. “This is how we know we’re a real family here.”
That’s the assumption Republican leadership had about Trump. And when it became clear after Trump had secured the nomination and Russia was interfering in the presidential election, when the nation’s intelligence agencies had that information and presented it to congressional leadership, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell covered it up. The CIA told him that Putin is overseeing an operation to disrupt the election and to help Trump, and here is what McConnell basically said, in the words of Washington Post reporter Greg Miller, who initially broke this story: “‘McConnell is basically telling [the CIA], ‘you’re telling us that Russia is trying to help elect Trump. If you try to come forward with this, I’m not going to sign onto any sort of public statement that would condemn Russian interference. But I will condemn you and the Obama administration for trying to mess up this election.'”
Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan and Kevin McCarthy all knew about Trump’s ties to Putin, suspected his indebtedness to Putin, and knew Russia was trying to get Trump elected. They knew it before the election and they let it happen. They didn’t just turn a blind eye, as in McConnell’s case, but actively kept the American people in the dark.
McConnell (and Ryan and McCarthy) are not in Mueller’s brief as far as we know. They should be. They should be forced to testify about what they knew about Russian influence in the election on behalf of Trump, and when they knew it.