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Republicanism, after Trump

T

he party of Lincoln is clearly now the party of Donald Trump, where no one dare speak ill of the Great Leader without being Tweeted to a primary challenge by the president whose approval rating among Republican voters remains near 90 percent.

So, unless you want what Jeff Flake of Arizona received for crossing the president, you have but two choices: Grow a conscience and speak out against a president unfit to serve; or, shut up, bow down and watch this president destroy your party for a generation.

The dilemma of conscience-versus-seats in Congress was never clearer than this week at the two Mueller congressional hearings. Republicans have made their choice and it is not a pretty thing to watch.

Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller spoke about his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election, while Republicans attacked his creditability, raised false claims and generally totally ignored the topic at hand.

Mueller has reported that the Russians made major efforts in 2016 to affect the outcome of the presidential elections in favor of Donald Trump. The evidence supporting that claim is buttressed by U.S. intelligence agencies. But Republicans cannot even acknowledge that the Russian help was to benefit Trump, for fear of Trump’s anger about the truth of his corrupted path to the White House.

Mueller explained that path. Russian agents made over 125 contacts during the Trump campaign, offering and providing help for a Trump victory. The Trump campaign knew of these efforts and welcomed the help. But during that period, the Trump campaign could have, at any time, been destroyed by the Russians, had the Russians not wanted Trump, the weaker candidate, to win the presidency.

When Trump lied about Russian contacts, arguing that no one in his campaign had contact with Russians, the Russians could have publicly corrected that statement, providing times, dates and places where they interacted with Trump campaign officials. The Russians stayed silent. Later, when Trump promised the American people that he had no dealings with Russia (while he was secretly negotiating a Trump Hotel in Moscow), Russia could have ruined Trump’s campaign by showing that was a lie. The Russians remained silent, to the benefit of Trump.

After the election, when the investigation began, Trump campaign officials lied over and over and over about their connections to the Russians. Trump later lied, according to Mueller, on his written statement to the special prosecutor. Everyone lied, from the very beginning (“no contacts”), to the very end (“a witch hunt”).

But even the lies were not enough. Trump tried more than once to fire Mueller for investigating him. Trump even demanded the White House attorney perjure himself to cover Trump’s demand to terminate Mueller. Obstruction of justice could have convicted Trump and imprisoned him had not the Department of Justice ruled that a sitting president could not be charged.

After all of this, when Trump was recently asked if he would accept foreign help against an opponent in 2020, he said he would welcome such help.

So, here we are, an upcoming election where the president is advertising for illegal help from our adversaries, where a Republican just killed a bill to require a campaign to report foreign contacts and where Republicans sat on their hands as Mueller came to Congress to tell them to get their act together and protect the 2020 election.

The Republican collapse of character may doom the 2020 elections to be questioned forever, lacking new rules and regulations to control the intrusion of foreign adversaries who want this week, corrupt president re-elected.

Before it is too late, before the very core of our nation — free elections — is further damaged, may our Republican friends please act now, fight foreign influence, demand the president swear to rebut foreign campaign contacts, and pass laws that make such activity illegal.

Do not destroy our elections be-
cause of fear of the bully, or a sick desire to stay in office dishonorably.

This one time, do the right thing.

Jim Crawford is a retired educator, political enthusiast and award-winning columnist living here in the Tri-State. Email him at letters@irontontribune.com.