Party or country? The Republicans choose a side. - Macleans.ca
 

Party or country? The Republicans choose a side.

Trump is being investigated for treason, confirmed the FBI. And still, the GOP lawmakers kept shamelessly asking about leaks.


 
WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 20: ( L to R) James Comey, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Michael Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency, testify during a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing concerning Russian meddling in the 2016 United States election, on Capitol Hill, March 20, 2017 in Washington. While both the Senate and House Intelligence committees have received private intelligence briefings in recent months, Monday's hearing is the first public hearing on alleged Russian attempts to interfere in the 2016 election. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

James Comey, Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Michael Rogers, Director of the National Security Agency, testify during a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence hearing concerning Russian meddling in the 2016 United States election, on Capitol Hill, March 20, 2017 in Washington (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The Congressional Intelligence Committee met today to begin its investigation of Russia’s interference in the U.S. election. The first two witnesses were FBI Director James Comey and head of the NSA Adm. Mike Rogers. Close observers of the ongoing scandal were not expecting much drama. The hearing was open to the public, and given the sensitive nature of the issue, it seemed unlikely that either Comey or Rogers would be able to say anything of particular interest. And the Republican Chair, Devin Nunes, had signaled he had no intention of allowing this investigation to focus on the Trump administration. Nunes has complained the real crimes are the constant drip of leaks that have kept this story in the news for months. Nonetheless, not only was there drama, but history was made.

Comey began his testimony by confirming, for the first time, that the FBI is conducting a criminal investigation into whether the sitting President of the United States colluded with a foreign power to influence the outcome of the election. He announced it dryly, using carefully chosen words that made it sound like an unimportant administrative detail. But the implications were clear, and even after all these months of headlines and conjecture, they were astounding: For the first time in American history, the President is being investigated for treason.

Treason is a shocking word. It has not been thrown around much as this Russian scandal has grown, and for good reason. But conspiring with a foreign power to influence a U.S. election must surely fall within the definition of “giving comfort to her enemies”. And when Clinton’s former campaign manager Robby Mook used it today, saying “If U.S. campaign aides helped the Russians, knew about the Russians plans, or asked the Russians to intervene in any way, they should be prosecuted for treason…” it was hard to disagree.

It is also hard to imagine all these aides acted coincidentally, without any guidance, given that the one thing they all have in common was their direct line of reporting to the candidate, Donald Trump. Is it possible an over zealous campaign surrogate, like Roger Stone, decided on his own to communicate with the hacker who stole emails from the Democratic Party? Absolutely. But at the same time that Paul Manafort altered the Republican policy platform to the benefit of Moscow? And when Carter Page and Mike Flynn were meeting with the Russian Ambassador? It is too much to believe all of them reached out to Moscow on their own accord. If Trump’s aides are accused of treason, then he must be too.

Comey’s bombshell was not the only surprise of historic proportions in the hearing. No one expected the Republican Congressmen to demonstrate any zeal. The idea that their presidential candidate is being investigated at all must fill them with a profound sense of unease. And, when that President is as mercurial and vindictive as this one, it is no surprise that only a small handful of GOP politicians have been brave enough to raise their own concerns about his Russian links. But, no one expected Chairman Nunes and his colleagues like Congressman Trey Gowdy to so brazenly choose party over country.

The overwhelming majority of their questions throughout the five hour hearing was focused on the leaks about the investigation, and not on the investigation itself. Gowdy seemed almost in tears at one point as he tried to comprehend why anyone would be so malicious as to leak proof Mike Flynn had lied about his contacts with the Russian ambassador. The Republicans made it clear they were less worried about the Russian scandal, and more upset that anyone had found out about it.

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I consider myself, sadly, to be a cynic. This bothers me, because I feel my judgments on the world and the people in it can be too harsh. But, that was before I had watched these Republican Congressmen today. Their shameless attempts to distract attention from foreign powers threatening American democracy, and to focus it on the journalists reporting the scandal left me speechless.

I realized that when it comes to American politics, I am a complete naïf. Even in my most jaded moments I would not have imagined an elected American politician, faced with stakes as high as these, in front of so many cameras, could so openly and unapologetically choose his party over his country.

The choice these congressmen made today, to protect the interests of Russia and Republicans and not to defend the interests of America and democracy, will be long remembered, and history will not be kind.


 

Party or country? The Republicans choose a side.

  1. It’s neither party NOR country…..it’s WINNING that counts.

    • I agree Emily. I think this bunch has no real alliance to the GOP either. It’s all about winning alright, and that’s about winning the biggest pot they can engineer by affecting policy directly. Greed is the big winner here, pure and simple.

  2. President Trump is the grasping Merchant from Chaucer, and unworthy to be president. I did not and would not vote for him. I would not welcome him into my house unless he needed refuge from the cold. But to accuse him of treason is its own form of grasping, a reactionary disdain for the democratic vote instead of for the man.

    I love Dostoyevsky, especially THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV, and wish I could visit Russia – am I a traitor too?

    • May it be that you mean the Merchant (of Venice) from Shakespeare?

      • P.S. Russia has produced great authors, composers and musicians. Mr. Putin is doing well as a clever composer himself.

  3. The elite (@1%) don’t really think in terms of home and country anymore. It’s a global economy stupid! It’s all about market access and control; the US of A is just another market.

  4. The Republican platform was weakened to be the same as Obama’s existing foreign policy. Providing lethal offensive weapons to Ukraine would start World War III and Armageddon, which was why it was changed to mainly defensive weaponry, the existing Obama policy.

    If Ukraine gains the weapons which give them the advantage, the war in eastern Ukraine will NOT be contained to Ukraine. Crimea is existential for the Russians. Defeat (rather than stalemate) is existential to the Russians in the Donbass.

    There was nothing wrong with Flynn talking to the Russian Ambassador in the post-election period. It was his job. There were things that he should probably not talk about during those conversations. We haven’t seen the transcripts, so we don’t know if he did anything wrong.

    Canada was scrambling to talk the Trump gang, because they were Washington outsiders. It should not be surprising that other countries were doing the same.

  5. OK Scott, we get it; you hate Trump and the GOP. Fine. But what you’re doing, (in this article, and overall) on the platform you’ve been given, is completely amateur, reckless, and irresponsible, given your supposed worldly experience. When Letterman was retiring, Al Frankin was a final guest, and Al made a great observation on his legacy; that Dave respected the spot he was given, respected his audience, respected the platform. You don’t. This latest article with your little video attached quoting Buzzfeed, of all sites, and your complete lack of depth and proof, is maddening. Maddening because you’ve been given a platform you should respect, and you don’t. I don’t know, maybe you don’t think much of Mclean’s, or the readers.