Update to The GOP war on truth itself, and John Neely Kennedy, the junior senator from the state of Louisiana.
Oops, he did it again!
Steve Benen reports, GOP’s Kennedy, hoping to aid Trump, keeps echoing Russian propaganda:
On multiple occasions, U.S. officials have explained to elected policymakers the dangers of promoting Russian disinformation. In fact, the New York Times reported two weeks ago that American intelligence professionals have informed senators and their aides that Russia has engaged in a lengthy campaign “to essentially frame” Ukraine for Russia’s 2016 election attack.
As regular readers know, it was against this backdrop that Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) appeared on Fox News last weekend, insisting that Ukraine may have been responsible for the Russian attack, apparently indifferent to the fact that he was helping disseminate a bogus Kremlin message.
The Louisiana Republican soon after walked back his comments, at least a little, though he continued to argue that there’s “a lot of evidence” that Ukraine “did try to interfere” in our elections – which, again, is exactly the kind of propaganda Moscow wants American politicians to repeat.
All of which set the stage for Kennedy’s appearance on NBC’s Meet the Press, where the conservative lawmaker told Chuck Todd, “I think both Russia and Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election.” The Republican added that former Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko “actively worked for Secretary Clinton.”
It led the host to remind the senator of an important detail:
“You realize the only other person selling this argument outside the United States is this man, Vladimir Putin.”
Todd added that senators were recently briefed on the importance of not saying what Kennedy had just said on the air: “[T]his is a Russian intelligence propaganda campaign in order to get people like you to say these things about Ukraine.”
The Louisianan replied, “I was not briefed.”
It’s not enough to simply marvel at the lengths some Republicans will go to in order to shield Donald Trump from accountability. It’s not enough to note that the bogus claims Kennedy has peddled are wrong. It’s not enough to be gobsmacked by a sitting GOP senator’s capacity for willful ignorance…
Or malignant indifference to being a traitor.
What’s every bit as important, if not more so, is the fact that John Kennedy – a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee – is helping advance a disinformation campaign, crafted by Russia, for the purpose of undermining American interests. Told that he’s echoing the Kremlin’s false claims, the Senate Republican didn’t seem to care.
Circling back to a point from last week, it’s hardly unreasonable to wonder why basic levels of patriotism don’t prevent the kind of mess the public is now confronting.
This is because there is not a patriot among them.
“The Russians had been pushing this propaganda line for years. So, i just think it’s important after, again, if you haven’t been paying much attention over the past week because of the holidays, it’s important to understand you saw two — two really moving, important weeks of testimony and now the Republicans are coming back, they still have no defense, and they’re actually reduced now — they’re doing nothing but repeating Russia propaganda points,” Scarborough said.
“As somebody said yesterday, if they do that, knowing the 17 intel agencies told them it was a lie and being warned in the United States Senate, then actually they’re not ignorant, that they’ve actually turned themselves into being Russian assets. That’s where we are as a nation as this week begins.”
Michael D’Antonio explains at CNN, Republicans’ chilling surrender to Trump (excerpt):
Senator John Kennedy’s Russia-Ukraine dance reflects the larger closing of Republican minds to the damage wreaked by the President’s campaign to destroy fact-based politics and public morality. One by one, many formerly respectable politicians have joined a cult devoted to Trump’s conspiracy theories and self-serving claims.
The spectacle has become more pronounced of late, with the most craven example coming from former Texas governor and current secretary of energy Rick Perry, who called Trump “the chosen one” and explained that he’s part of “God’s plan for the people who rule and judge over us on this planet in our government.”
Perry once knew better when it came to the nature of Donald Trump. “He offers a barking carnival act that can be best described as Trumpism: a toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued,” said Perry in 2015 as he called for Trump’s defeat in the 2016 primaries.
What changed between 2015 and today?
In Perry can we see a man who apparently recognized the grip Trump had on the GOP base, joined the cabinet and became ever-more co-opted? By the spring of 2019, according to testimony given in the impeachment inquiry hearings, he became a witting or unwitting part of the President’s scheme to force Ukraine to gin-up an investigation of Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden in order to receive desperately needed aid in its war with Russia. Perry has denied being part of any conversation in which the Bidens came up.
As the world surely knows by now, Perry’s experience reflects a pattern for those who dare to enter Trump’s orbit. As insiders, they witness the power of Trump’s ability to demonize those who stand against him, rally voters to his side and deflect efforts to get at the truth.
* * *
The worst offender is Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who claimed a close friendship with John McCain, deceased war hero and senator, but has now been rebuked by McCain’s daughter for failing to stand against the President. Once capable of criticizing Trump as “religious bigot,” Graham now functions as an abject apologist and craven enabler.
Most recently, he has given Trump what he sought from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by opening a Senate investigation into the Bidens. His abuse of power, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, seeks to advance Trump’s lie-based smear of a political opponent. “That’s the way it works in politics,” he said, defending the Biden investigation.
No, it does not, you craven coward.
Others in the camp of the craven now include Rep. Will Hurd of Texas who, though he is resigning and once stood as a critic of the White House, listened to extensive testimony regarding Trump’s alleged bribery and extortion efforts and announced, “I have not heard evidence proving the President committed bribery or extortion.”
Others who seem unable to hear, or reason, include former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, who now agrees that Trump is heaven sent, and Sen. Rand Paul, who went from Trump critic to bromantic partner. The president has said, “Rand Paul is a very special guy as far as I’m concerned. He’s never let me down.”
Trump’s statement about Paul was both a dominance display and an endorsement the senator can present to voters who follow Trump’s lead. By seeking the President’s praise, Paul complied with the dynamic of capitulation that seems to overwhelm Republicans in Washington.
Too weak to resist, they see survival in joining the cult that degrades the nation a little bit more every day. What they don’t seem to realize is that there will be an America and a Republican Party after Trump, but the damage they are doing now will make it much harder for both to recover.
The personality cult of Donald Trump has reached an alarming new depth: a new poll by YouGov for The Economist found that Republicans chose Donald Trump over Abraham Lincoln, by a margin of 53-47, as the better president.
Abraham Lincoln is regarded by historians as one of the greatest American presidents. Donald Trump is likely to surpass James Buchanan and Andrew Johnson, to their everlasting relief, as the “Worst. President. Ever.” when the history is finally written.