Over the last two weeks we’ve learned that Donald Trump Jr., the Percy Weasley of the Trump family, met in June 2016 with a Russian lawyer, a former Russian spy, a U.S. employee of a Russian real estate company (whose identity was just revealed by The Washington Post last night), a Russian translator, and one Rob Goldstone. Jared Kushner and Paul Manafort were also in the meeting, which was arranged after Goldstone sent an email to Donald Jr. offering compromising information about Hillary Clinton that had been obtained from the Russian government.
Donald Jr. has spent the last two weeks lying and spinning the story. But the emails, first obtained by The New York Times, are the clearest evidence yet that the Trump campaign was willing to collude with the Russian government. Unsurprisingly, Republicans are doing everything possible to ignore it.
On Wednesday, McKay Coppins published a piece at The Atlantic that contained a number of quotes (most of them anonymous) from congressional Republican aides about their positions on Trump and Russia. The consensus that emerges is that Republicans are happy to brush off any Trumpland-Russia incident as incompetence and that they believe they are already doing everything they can to hold Trump accountable. When Coppins asks one aide if Republicans would ever turn on Trump, he answers, “What does that even mean? What do you expect us to do? I hear this with every little Tweet [from Trump]: ‘Oh, when are Republicans going to put an end to this?’ What do you want us to do, seize his Twitter account?”
There are, of course, lots of things Republicans can do:
They could also hold up legislation and refuse to cooperate with the president’s priorities until they get answers about Russia. But, of course, none of this advances the Republican Party’s goals of dismantling health care, pushing through tax breaks for the wealthy, and destroying the welfare state. It’s clear that as long as they are in power, Republicans will effectively turn a blind eye on any and all evidence of Trump-Russia collusion. As another congressional aide put it to Coppins, “As long as Trump has a strong base behind him, I don’t think it’s smart for most members to go out of their way to try and undermine him.”