November 19, 2019

Republicans Are Totally Fine with This

“Two years ago, in the early days of the Russia investigation, many Republican senators said collusion with a foreign government to influence an American election would be a betrayal of the United States. They didn’t believe Donald Trump had solicited campaign help from Russia. But they agreed that if he had, it was illegal and perhaps impeachable.

Today, some of those senators—notably, the committee chairmen responsible for protecting national security and the rule of law—have renounced that principle. They now assert, in the case of Ukraine, that collusion is OK.

Sen. James Risch of Idaho is the chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. In June 2017, he interrogated then–Attorney General Jeff Sessions at a hearing of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. “Collusion with the Russians—or any other government, for that matter, when it comes to our elections—certainly would be improper and illegal,” Risch stipulated. He asked Sessions, “Would that be a fair statement?” Sessions replied, “Absolutely.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina expressed a similar view. At a press conference earlier this year, Graham, who is now the chairman of the Judiciary Committee, explained, “The big thing for me, guys, has always been: Did Trump work with the Russians? And I told him to his face, almost two years ago: ‘If you did, that’s it between me and you. And anything that follows, you deserve.’ I will say that about any politician of any party.””

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