GOP Cowardice On The Trump-Russia Investigation

Congressional Republicans downplayed outrage over Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort’s meeting with a Russian attorney as “politics” and “overblown.”


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: “Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was asked by reporters four times whether he had concerns about the meeting or whether it affected his relationship with the Trump administration related to Russia. Each time, McConnell offered some version of this response: ‘The investigation in the Senate is being handled by the Intelligence Committee, and I’m sure they’ll get to the bottom of whatever may have happened.’”


House Speaker Paul Ryan: “House Speaker Paul Ryan dodged a question Wednesday related to Donald Trump Jr.’s emails revealing details of a meeting with a Russian lawyer who purportedly offered damaging information on Hillary Clinton… ‘We have a special counsel that is doing investigation over at the Justice Department, we have an investigation here in the House, we have an investigation in the Senate,’ Ryan told reporters at a Capitol Hill news conference when asked about President Donald Trump’s eldest son.”


Senator Orrin Hatch: “Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said he believes the media was overreacting to news of the emails. ‘I think this is overblown,’ Hatch said. Trump Jr. is ‘not part of the administration, he doesn’t carry any banner he doesn’t have any particular job in the administration’ which reduces the significance of the disclosures.”


Senator Roy Blunt: “Asked whether he thought the president’s son had engaged in any illegal behavior, Blunt said, ‘I don’t know that. I mean it may be that on his part the level of being relatively naïve about politics and personal exposure to things that are hard to explain.”


Senator Bob Corker: “Bob Corker is asked if the Russia developments are concerning him at all. ‘No,’ he says.”


Senator John Cornyn: “Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, who sits on the Senate intelligence committee, said he hadn’t seen the emails yet. ‘I’d like to know the whole story,’ he said.”


Senator Jeff Flake: “Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., said he would defer to others to make a judgment on the matter.  ‘We have a committee looking at that … I’m sure they’ll get to the bottom of it, and we have a special counsel as well,’ Flake said.”


Senator Ron Johnson: “Senate Homeland Security and Government Reform Committee Chairman Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) refused to speculate on the issue of Russian collusion. ‘I’m going to let the other committees, Senate Intelligence Committee, complete their work,,’ before coming to a conclusion, he said.”


Senator John Kennedy: “Sen. John Kennedy says he's waiting for the FBI investigation to finish, that it will find ‘Russia tried to interfere in our election, duh.’”


Senator Ted Cruz: “Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) on Tuesday dodged questions about President Trump’s Russia policies in the wake of reports that Donald Trump Jr. met with a Kremlin-linked lawyer after being promised dirt on Hillary Clinton in June 2016. ‘Washington is obsessed right now,’ Cruz told reporters. ‘It is the Democratic talking point du jour. But when I go back to Texas, nobody asks about Russia. You know, I held town halls all over the state of Texas. You know how many questions I got on Russia? Zero.’”


Senator Thom Tillis: “Sen Tillis: Don Jr email ‘has nothing to do w what we need to get done in August.’ ‘That's the very thing we need to not be distracted by.’”


Senator David Perdue: “Georgia Republican Sen. David Perdue, an early backer of candidate Trump, said Tuesday morning that he had yet to read the Trump Jr. emails and declined to comment when asked if Goldstone’s initial email should have been shared with the FBI.”


Rep. Scott Taylor: “[TAYLOR:] Because let's face it, there are some self-inflicted wounds here as well, too. At the same time, there's a lot of hysteria and overplaying from the other side as well, too. […] Let me touch on that really quickly because people are concerned about the integrity of elections, but to see a Russian conspiracy on every single corner, they are not. They think it's overplayed.” [CNN Newsroom, CNN, 7/17/2017]


Some Republicans went as far as to say that they would have done the same thing as Donald Jr.


Rep. Sean Duffy: “CAMEROTA: OK. We haven't gotten your take yet on the Don Jr. meeting with the Russian lawyer now that we've seen the e-mails. How do you characterize what happened here? DUFFY: I don't have an issue with it. […] That's not a crime. And so to have a potential meeting where this source might give you evidence that the DNC was taking money from Russia or that Hillary Clinton was committing a crime, and then once you find out that this is a bogus meeting and after 20 minutes you kick them out of the office, I have no problem with what Don Jr. did. And I don't think any — any prosecutor would either.” [New Day, CNN, 7/14/2017]


Rep. Ted Yoho: “[BLITZER:] Do you believe it was appropriate for Donald Trump Jr. to take a meeting with a Russian national who promised to provide damaging information to him and his associates involving Hillary Clinton? YOHO: Do I think it's appropriate? I think I probably would have done the same thing. I mean, it's opposition research. And anybody that's been in an election, you're always looking to get the upper hand.” [The Situation Room, CNN, 7/10/2017]


Rep. Francis Rooney: “[HARLOW: It's all fair? Is meeting with a hostile foreign government entity fair? Is that — ROONEY: Absolutely.” [CNN Newsroom, CNN, 7/17/2017]


Republicans have attacked the Russia investigation as a “witch hunt.”


Rep. Roger Marshall: “In a statement Thursday, U.S. Rep. Roger Marshall called investigations into ties between the Trump campaign and Russia ‘a witch hunt.’  ‘There’s been a clear slant that has permeated our national political coverage,’ Marshall said. ‘Half-truths and innuendo have defined the conversation.’”


Rep. Peter King: “Mueller is a widely praised figure on Capitol Hill, having served as the FBI director under Presidents George W. Bush and Obama, with backing from both sides of the aisle. ‘It’s fine. I just don’t think there is any need for it,’ said Rep. Peter T. King (R-N.Y.), who blamed the interest in Trump's potential dealings with the Russians on ‘a rabid press corps and a very intense Democratic Party.’”


Senator James Risch: “‘You guys are barking up the wrong tree,’ Sen. James Risch of Idaho told a group of reporters asking about the various controversies. Risch insisted the ‘real story’ is leaks coming out of the administration. And citing a Washington Post story about Trump revealing classified information to Russian diplomats in the Oval Office a day after firing Comey, Risch said it had been disclosed by ‘a weasel … a traitor. They've committed treason and ought to go to prison.’”


Republicans dismissed Trump’s firing of Comey.


Rep. Darrel Issa: “I just asked @DarrellIssa abt the Comey news and he flicked me off — literally gave me the middle finger — and kept walking. Said nothing.”


Rep. Robert Aderholt: “But ask some GOP lawmakers, particularly House members from conservative districts or senators from GOP-leaning states, and they don't need an investigation to tell you there's no there there. ‘At this point I have not seen anything that is that alarming,’ said Rep. Robert Aderholt of Alabama.”


Rep. Trent Franks: “But ask some GOP lawmakers, particularly House members from conservative districts or senators from GOP-leaning states, and they don't need an investigation to tell you there's no there there…’ I'm convinced that the president did nothing that he thought was outside the best interest of the country,’ said Rep. Trent Franks, R-Ariz.”


Rep. James Comer: “But ask some GOP lawmakers, particularly House members from conservative districts or senators from GOP-leaning states, and they don't need an investigation to tell you there's no there there…’A lot of times he's the victim of not being a career politician,’ Rep. James Comer of Kentucky said of Trump.”