Evan McMullin, the former CIA operations officer who ran as an independent candidate in the 2016 presidential election, has an op-ed in the Washington Post that is less than kind to the Republican Party and Congressional Republicans in particular. The premise of McMullin's piece? That the Republican Party is becoming the party of Russian dictator Vladimir Putin. Worse yet, they are putting America's democracy at risk - all because they place their party and lining their own pockets ahead of the best interests of the nation. Here are op-ed highlights:
Whether its leaders and members realize it, the Republican Party is at risk of becoming the Vladimir Putin-aligned party in the United States. It can be convincingly argued that it’s already similar to Putin-supported parties in Europe, given Donald Trump’s presidency, the Republican base’s increasingly favorable views of Moscow and the House GOP leadership’s disinterest in investigating and preventing Russian interference.
Increasingly sophisticated Russian influence and cyberoperations threaten Americans’ ability to choose their own leaders. This isn’t hyperbole; in fact, it’s hard to overstate just how serious this issue is. Yet President Trump continues to sow doubt about whether Moscow even interfered in the 2016 presidential elections and to suggest the question’s insignificance by ignoring it all together.
Our commander in chief seems more interested in protecting Moscow than he does in deterring its future attacks. The Post reported that the administration is actually considering allowing the Russian government to reopen the two spy compounds that President Barack Obama closed in late December in response to Russia’s election attack. There are also reports that the White House plans to step up lobbying efforts against a new Russia sanctions bill that the Senate passed with overwhelming bipartisan support this month. The measure would add new financial sanctions and require congressional review before Trump could lift these or other retaliatory measures currently levied against Moscow, including the closing of the two compounds.
Worse, Trump appears to have some support in this from Republican leaders in the House. Speaker Paul D. Ryan (R-Wis.) and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) have delayed the bill, citing the constitutional requirement that such bills originate in the House.
This is little more than a red herring. . . . . . Instead, Ryan and McCarthy appear to be more interested in delaying and weakening the bill.
Behind their neglect are changing Republican voter opinions, which are becoming alarmingly more pro-Russian. According to a Morning Consult-Politico poll conducted in May, 49 percent of Republican voters consider Russia to be either an ally or friendly. Only 12 percent consider it an enemy. In 2015, only 12 percent of Republicans held a favorable view of Russian President Vladimir Putin, according to Gallup.
Because they control both the executive and legislative branches, it is ultimately up to Republican leaders to prevent future Russian attacks on American democracy, even if such attacks may benefit the party electorally. Deterrence is an indispensable part of this equation. It cannot be accomplished without punishing Moscow for its violations of our sovereignty and threatening harsher responses for future trespasses.In passing the Russia sanctions bill, Senate Republicans have shown they understand this. . . . [Trump] simply cannot be trusted to protect the integrity of America’s democracy on his own.
Republican leaders and the party are at a crossroads. They will either choose liberty in an independent America or to serve a distant, foreign master who seeks no more than to enrich and empower himself at the expense of free society everywhere. If Republican leaders choose the latter, the majority of Americans will have no choice but to hold them accountable as opponents to the cause of freedom.