Monday, December 12, 2016

Key GOP Senators Call for Bipartisan Russia Election Probe

While much of the Republican Party seems only to stand by Donald Trump, a/k/a Der Fuhrer on this blog, and close their eyes to Russian efforts to throw the election to Trump, as the Washington Post reports,  some key GOP senators seemingly are awaking to the reality that saving the nation from the machinations of a foreign enemy is more important than partisan advantage.  I will concede that in the past I have been pretty ruthless with Lindsey Graham (the Palmetto Queen), yet he has been one of the leading voices for sanity and stopping Trump's putsch.  Unfortunately, Mitch McConnell continues to demonstrate that he'd sell his own mother into prostitution for pocket changes if it provided a partisan advantage.   Whether any of this will prove to be enough to saw the Electoral College electors or to prompt a federal court to block Trump's inaugurations is likely a long shot. Here are article highlights:
Two Senate Republicans joined demands for a bipartisan probe into Russia’s suspected election interference allegedly designed to bolster Donald Trump as questions continue to mount about the president-elect’s expected decision to nominate a secretary of state candidate with close ties to Russia.
Sens. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) — the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee — joined calls by incoming Senate Democratic leader Charles E. Schumer (N.Y.) and Armed Services ranking Democrat Jack Reed (R.I.) for a thorough, bipartisan investigation of Russian influence in the U.S. elections. Their statement came two days after The Washington Post reported the CIA’s private conclusion that Russia’s activities were intended to tip the scales to help Trump.
“Recent reports of Russian interference in our election should alarm every American,” the four senators said in a statement on Sunday morning. “Democrats and Republicans must work together, and across the jurisdictional lines of the Congress, to examine these recent incidents thoroughly and devise comprehensive solutions to deter and defend against further cyberattacks.”
McCain and Graham — who frequently criticized Trump before and after his election — have often bucked Republican leaders, and their embrace of a wide-ranging Russia probe does not necessarily signal support from other Republicans, including Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Sen. Susan Collins (Maine), one of the more moderate Republicans in the upper chamber, suggested a bipartisan investigation may be “useful toward achieving an objective accounting of any alleged meddling by foreign adversaries.”
Another GOP senator — Sen. James Lankford (Okla.), who serves on the Senate Intelligence Committee — agreed with McCain and Graham’s decision to support a bipartisan investigation of suspected cyber intrusion by Russia in the U.S. elections.
“Cybersecurity investigation of Russian interference can’t be partisan,” Lankford tweeted Sunday.
Republicans may be loath to join calls for such a wide-ranging investigation into Russia’s election-related activities given that Trump has dismissed the CIA claims as “ridiculous.” They may worry about picking an obvious fight with the president-elect before he is even inaugurated. Trump has signaled he wants a warmer relationship with Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom he praised during the campaign.
A U.S. intelligence official said it is “concerning” that intelligence on Russia relating to the election is “being dismissed out of hand as false or politically partisan.”
“The inclination to ignore such intelligence and impugn the integrity of U.S. intelligence officials is contrary to all that is sacred to national security professionals who work day and night to protect this country,” said the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.
McConnell himself has been notably silent since the Post report was published on Friday night, and his number-two, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas), downplayed the significance of it in a series of tweets — although some of them suggested Congress’s review of Russian actions should broaden.
For the most part, other key Republicans were silent on the issue of whether to embrace a bipartisan look at whether  Putin’s government was behind the hacks of the Democratic National Committee emails and their publication by WikiLeaks in an alleged bid to help Trump and damage Hillary Clinton’s campaign.
At the same time, several Republican senators raised concerns about Trump’s likely nomination of Rex Tillerson, Exxon Mobil’s chief executive, as secretary of state due to his  ties to Putin. Republicans in a 52-to-48 Senate have only the slimmest of margins to get him confirmed, should Democrats decide to uniformly oppose the nomination. Only three Republicans would need to side with Democrats in order to defeat Tillerson.
The potential nomination sparked a backlash among the party’s traditional hawks who oppose Putin, and some senior strategists feared that more than a handful of Republicans would outright oppose his nomination – requiring Trump to find Democratic support in order to confirm his potential Secretary of State.
“Being a ‘friend of Vladimir’ is not an attribute I am hoping for from a Secretary of State,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) tweeted Sunday.
Democrats, including Sens. Robert Menendez (N.J.) and Christopher A. Coons (Del.), stated their deep skepticism of Tillerson as a candidate.
In a post on Facebook, Menendez called the idea Tillerson could be named secretary of state “alarming and absurd,” concluding that “the Trump administration would be guaranteeing Russia has a willing accomplice in the President’s Cabinet guiding our nation’s foreign policy.”
[Lindsey] Graham has already also strongly hinted that he might oppose the nomination.
“I don’t know the man much at all, but let’s put it this way: If you received an award from the Kremlin, order of friendship, then we’re gonna have some talkin’,” Graham said early Saturday morning. “We’ll have some questions. I don’t want to prejudge the guy but that’s a bit unnerving.”
Candidly, if Republicans kill the investigation, then I think the foregone conclusion is that many of them are in collusion with Trump and Putin to act against America's best interest.  As for Mitch McConnell, in my opinion, the man makes the nastiest and most tawdry whore look virtuous. 

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