MAGA's Meltdown Over Zelensky
Plus a Flashback: Some Thoughts on Accountability
But make sure you read Cathy Young’s remarkable roundup of the MAGA right’s meltdown over Volodymyr Zelensky’s speech last night: Putin’s Useful Idiots: Right Wingers Lose It Over Zelensky Visit.
The bottom-line: The anti-Ukraine right can’t stand America standing as the arsenal of democracy.
Also, don’t miss this bonus podcast with JVL and Bill Kristol on the symmetry between Zelensky’s visit and the release of the January 6 report.
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Meanwhile: This one is a flashback from February 28, 2022.
(Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty.)
I think it is safe say that, in terms of political courage, Tom Cotton is no Volodymyr Zelensky.
Asked four times to criticize Donald Trump’s ongoing praise of Vladimir Putin, the Arkansas senator dodged, weaved, and refused to take a stand.
“Former President Trump was out there talking about it last night,” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos said. “I simply don’t understand why you can’t condemn his praise of Vladimir Putin.”
But, of course, George understood perfectly well. He understood because he has watched Cotton and other Republicans choke on questions like this for the last six years.
The ABC host pushed repeatedly, noting that Trump is not only the leading figure of the GOP, but that he was also signaling his intention to seek a return to power.
Stephanopoulos said: “You’re a senior member of the Republican party. Donald Trump is the leader of the Republican party. He said last night again, suggested that he’d be running for president. When Fox News asked him if he had a message for Vladimir Putin, he said he has no message.
“Why can’t you condemn that? I feel quite confident that if … a Barack Obama or Joe Biden said something like that, you’d be first in line to criticise him.”
But Cotton’s failure to answer was as predictable as it was pathetic.
As I wrote over the weekend, the GOP is not going to break with Trump over Ukraine for all the usual reasons.
But the biggest reason they cannot break with the fetid mess of late-stage Trumpism is that Republicans cannot hold Trump accountable without holding themselves accountable, as well.
There are, of course, many forms of accountability — to one’s conscience, to society, and to history; and it takes many forms, from apologies, to penance, to actual punishments that are proportionate to the misconduct.
This is why memory is so important; because the alternative to genuine accountability is not only amorality, but also amnesia.
So let’s remember some things.
Amanda Carpenter reminds us “It’s worth remembering now, as so many Republicans pin “Stand with Ukraine” images to their profiles, how little most of them cared when Donald Trump withheld critical military assistance from the country in 2019 as he pressured Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to do his political dirty work.”
They were there. They knew. They heard it. And then virtually every one of them voted to back Trump.
At the time, Trump’s bold attempt to get Zelensky to announce sham investigations into the Biden family and 2016 conspiracy theories were primarily viewed as a domestic affront. But the sight of Russian rockets raining down on Kyiv this week was a reminder that this obscene “drug deal” had real-world consequences.
They all need to be held accountable for that.
They also need to be held accountable for their open or tacit support of Trump 2024 because a Trump Presidency 2.0 would also have real-world consequences.
This excerpt from Carol Leonnig and Phil Rucker’s book, “I Alone Can Fix It: Donald J. Trump’s Catastrophic Final Year” also takes on added importance:
In fact, Trump had privately indicated that he would seek to withdraw from NATO and to blow up the U.S. alliance with South Korea, should he win reelection. When those alliances had come up in meetings with Esper and other top aides, some advisers warned Trump that shredding them before the election would be politically dangerous.
“Yeah, the second term,” Trump had said. “We’ll do it in the second term.”
Here’s a flashback, via the NYT:
WASHINGTON — There are few things that President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia desires more than the weakening of NATO, the military alliance among the United States, Europe and Canada that has deterred Soviet and Russian aggression for 70 years.
Last year, President Trump suggested a move tantamount to destroying NATO: the withdrawal of the United States.
Senior administration officials told The New York Times that several times over the course of 2018, Mr. Trump privately said he wanted to withdraw from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. Current and former officials who support the alliance said they feared Mr. Trump could return to his threat as allied military spending continued to lag behind the goals the president had set.
Exit: Republicans who don’t want to be held accountable for their enabling of Trump and their complicity in his crimes, obviously are also reluctant to be held accountable for wanting this to go on… and on.
Accountability, you ask?
I apologize in advance for the spoilers.
Cheney’s question to GOP Leaders — “Have you lost all sense of decency?” — is strictly rhetorical, of course. Because we know the answer.
Of course, MTG won’t be held accountable for her appearance with groypers over the weekend. Kevin McCarthy won’t even think about it. He’s far too busy purging Liz Cheney for telling the truth about January 6.
And then there’s Arizona Senator Wendy Rogers:
Trump’s Tax Returns Will Finally Be Revealed. It Shouldn’t Have Taken This Long.
The committee’s summary reveals that Trump paid $0 in taxes in 2020, much like he paid $0 in 10 of the previous 15 years, as the New York Times revealed in a blockbuster article in 2020. When asked about that in 2020, NPR reported that Rettig “insist[ed] his agency is not turning a blind eye to rich people who pay little or nothing in taxes.” That’s “absolutely false,” Rettig said. “For taxpayers who have more than $10 million in total positive income per year, we audit at the rate of 8.16 percent.” During Rettig’s tenure, both James Comey and his one-time deputy, Andrew McCabe—whom Trump called a “slimeball” and “treasonous,” respectively—were audited, although the Treasury inspector general for tax administration later concluded they were chosen randomly.
The Jan. 6 select committee’s final report will include analysis of foreign adversaries’ attempts to capitalize on Donald Trump’s election disinformation, according to a person familiar with the investigation’s long-awaited culmination that’s now set for release Thursday.
Via the NYT: “In Testimony, Hannity and Other Fox Employees Said They Doubted Trump’s Fraud Claims.”