The Republicans’ Morally Bankrupt Response to Trump’s Russia Scandal

These concerns quite manifestly don’t rate as highly with Republicans as the notion that high-income earners might someday pay higher taxes.

Last week, the chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Ray Lujan wrote a letter to his Republican counterpart, Steve Stivers, asking him to form a alliance with Democrats against further Russian subversion of the U.S. election system. “Specifically,” Lujan wrote, “I ask that we convene in the near future to discuss how to best establish a united front against foreign governments and collaborate with DHS, the FBI, and other institutions to protect our elections.”

There was no doubt a political angle to Lujan’s letter. The purpose in releasing it publicly was to exploit the tension between GOP claims to patriotic duty and the fact that the interference in the last election helped them. But Lujan’s actual request was eminently reasonable, and this weekend Stivers rejected it.

There is nothing hypothetical about Lujan’s concerns. Lost in all the commotion around the Trump campaign’s participation in Russia’s subversion efforts is the fact that those efforts weren’t limited to the presidential election, and the bad deeds weren’t limited to Trump and his advisers. The DCCC was among the institutions that Russian intelligence hacked. At least one Republican operative requested and received 2.5 gigabytes worth of documents from that hack, and effectively weaponized the information. Among the beneficiaries of the mass theft was Paul Ryan, whose super PAC used the leaked material to attack Democrats.

Whether it’s correct or not, the argument that nothing the Trump campaign did violated federal law ignores the fact that if an American super PAC did what the Russian intelligence services did, its proprietors would be guilty of many serious crimes, and it would be illegal for campaigns to coordinate activities with them. Yet Republicans and Trump are fast becoming of one mind that the Russian subversion campaign was useful, and they hope it happens again.