Rand Paul summed it up best when he explained: “We’ll never even get started with doing the things we need to do, like repealing Obamacare, if we’re spending our whole time having Republicans investigate Republicans.”
There it is in a nutshell. The hard-liners in the Republican Party are not going to let the little whiff of the possibility that Americans are being governed by a man taking his cues from Moscow get in the way of depriving millions of healthcare, demolishing the safety net and letting polluters pollute freely again.
Paul Krugman boils down the story so far in his Friday column:
A foreign dictator intervened on behalf of a U.S. presidential candidate — and that candidate won. Close associates of the new president were in contact with the dictator’s espionage officials during the campaign, and his national security adviser was forced out over improper calls to that country’s ambassador — but not until the press reported it; the president learned about his actions weeks earlier, but took no action.
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Meanwhile, the president seems oddly solicitous of the dictator’s interests, and rumors swirl about his personal financial connections to the country in question. Is there anything to those rumors? Nobody knows, in part because the president refuses to release his tax returns.
Maybe it's all perfectly kosher, but an awful lot of reasonable and knowledgeable people think it merits a little looking into. One would think the uber-patriots in Congress, who endlessly investigated Hillary Clinton for the Benghazi raid might cock an eyebrow. But no, Ryan, Chaffetz, Devin Nunes, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, and company are all ready to move on for apparently the precise reason that Paul laid out. They've got other things to do.
There will likely not be an investigation into a scandal that has the potential to dwarf even Watergate. Watergate, as Krugman points out, “took place before Republicans began their long march to the political right, so Congress was far less polarized than it is now.” Back in those seemingly quaint olden times, there was some actual agreement between the parties, certainly about holding a lawless president accountable.
“The polarization of the electorate also undermines Congress’s role as a check on the president: Most Republicans are in safe districts, where their main fear is of primary challengers to their right,” Krugman continues. “And the Republican base has suddenly become remarkably pro-Russian. Funny how that works.”
Krugman, like many others, wonders how this unprecedented crisis will end? How indeed a president who already lacks legitimacy can be allowed to send American troops to die, or be permitted to shape the Supreme Court for years to come. The depth of the rot goes beyond Putin. As in any horror movie, the villain is in the house with us. A few Republican legislators willing to demand the truth no matter where it leads is all that it would take, a seemingly small ask. Are there enough “people of conscience” in the modern GOP?
Krugman suspects not, concluding that this fact is even “scarier than the Trump-Putin axis.”