Saturday, July 7, 2018

What on earth compelled eight GOP lawmakers to flee America for Moscow on July 4?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) listens to US Senator Richard Shelby (3rd R) during his meeting with US congressional delegation as US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman Jr. attends the talks in Moscow, Russia, on July 3, 2018. (Photo by Alexander Zemlianichenko / POOL / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ALEXANDER ZEMLIANICHENKO/AFP/Getty Images)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov (L) listens to US Senator Richard Shelby (3rd R) during his meeting with Republican congressional delegation and US Ambassador to Russia Jon Huntsman in Moscow, Russia.
The optics are atrocious: Eight top lawmakers of the American political party now in sole control of Congress running off to Moscow to meet with Russian officials on Independence Day for no urgent reason other than to seek “a better relationship.” In essence, it's a political gift to Russian President Vladimir Putin and a black eye for America delivered by Republican lawmakers (no Democrats were invited). Let's remember these GOP names:
  • Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL)
  • Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA)
  • Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND)
  • Sen. Jerry Moran (R-KS)
  • Sen. Steve Daines (R-MT)
  • Sen. John Thune (R-SD)
  • Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI)
  • Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX)
There is absolutely no reasonable explanation for making this trip and conducting these single-party negotiations, often in secrecy. Additionally, the GOP’s normalization of Putin—an autocrat who has robbed his country blind—is as shameful as it is inexplicable. After the closed-door discussions, Russian lawmakers even bragged about how cozy the meeting was, writes the Daily Beast.
A Duma lawmaker later said “this was one of the easiest” sit-downs he ever had with American officials.
The Republicans talked tough, then caved. As former CIA chief John Brennan told Nicolle Wallace Thursday on MSNBC: “It is very scary.”

“The comment of the Russian official that this is ‘one of the easiest’ ones in memory,” Brennan noted, “have we forgotten what the Russians did in the 2016 election? Have we forgotten what the Russians did in Crimea? I'm all for an improvement of relations between Moscow and Washington, but it's on whose terms and how are we going to do that?” 

Brennan expressed dismay at the fact that the meetings were conducted with a GOP-only delegation, often behind closed doors, and with scant media access. Trump is "dealing away," he said, "all of the things that are in U.S. national interests and giving them what they want." 

Former federal prosecutor Chuck Rosenberg added that the actions of the GOP lawmakers could open up a whole new area of inquiry for special counsel Robert Mueller.

"From a prosecutor's perspective, this just raises additional questions," Rosenberg said. "Why are they there? How did they get there? Who invited them? What were the discussions? Did any of that link back to the things we know Bob Mueller is looking at?" 

So let's put a pin in this. By no means did they have to go to Moscow on the federal holiday we call Independence Day. They did that of their own volition. In the process, they cut out Democratic lawmakers and any reasonable way of keeping an objective record of the meetings. 

They either did that because Putin has some kind of leverage or because they decided that selling out America in support of Donald Trump was indeed worth putting their reputations and our country's national security on the line.

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