In a move as telling as it is shameful, Trump met with Russian President Vladimir Putin and – after what Trump called a firm denial – absolved him of any guilt with regard to the ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election. Trump’s baseless proclamation came on the heels of special counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 12 Russians only days earlier for engaging in exactly the kind of behavior the president shrugged off.
“He just said it’s not Russia,” Trump told reporters at today’s press conference, in reference to Russian meddling, effectively echoing Putin’s denials. “I will say this, I don’t see any reason why it would be.”
While Republicans have thus far been silent in the face of Trump’s glaring transgressions against our democracy, today appeared to be a turning point for several GOP leaders.
Both Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Republican Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) spoke out in public opposition to Trump’s shameful kowtowing to the Kremlin.
“There is no question that Russia interfered in our election and continues attempts to undermine democracy here and around the world,” Ryan said. “The president must appreciate that Russia is not our ally.”
“I have said a number of times, I’ll say it again: The Russians are not our friends. And I entirely believe the assessment of our intelligence community,” McConnell said.
While the likelihood that Republican leadership will actually move to condemn their leader’s treasonous behavior is slim, their defiant remarks are at the very least poor optics for a White House that is currently serving the interests of Moscow over the United States.
Yet until the GOP actually moves to punish him for his transgressions, he will continue to act with impunity—and continue to do Putin’s bidding.