By S.V. Date
The HuffPost (2/2/18)
WASHINGTON ― Once the party of morality and national security, Republican leaders this week found themselves defending a casino magnate accused of coercing sexual favors and a White House attacking the FBI.
Then they capped it off by putting more of their donors’ money into the president’s pocket when they held a dinner at his Washington hotel Thursday night.
Welcome to the Trump National Committee’s winter agenda, say the party’s estranged members.
“It’s not the Republican Party anymore. It’s the Trump Party,” said Colorado activist Kendal Unruh, who led an effort to dump then-nominee Donald Trump at the party convention in 2016. “It’s not the party that I knew, but it’s the party they have become.”
“They have lost the high road. They had it, and they lost it. I hope it was worth selling their souls.”
Because returning cash collected under their former finance chairman Steve Wynn, the casino magnate, would spur more questions about the sexual misconduct allegations against the president himself, the money’s not going back, some Republican National Committee members acknowledged privately. Because Trump is under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, they added, the party must support the president’s attacks on the FBI and the Department of Justice.
“I can’t be part of all this garbage,” said a former RNC member who spoke on condition of anonymity because he wants to remain involved in Republican politics at the state level. “The hardest thing to do in life is admit when you were wrong. That has sort of taken over. They don’t want to admit that they were totally hoodwinked by this guy.”
Wynn resigned his party position a week ago. In her public statement on the matter, RNC Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel noted that she accepted his resignation, but made no mention of the Wall Street Journal report last week detailing accusations that he had coerced sexual favors from women in his employ.
The party and its candidates have not returned the $1.5 million Wynn himself donated to them in recent years, let alone the tens of millions he helped raise in his role as finance chairman. Just months earlier, however, Republicans aggressively demanded that Democrats return money donated by disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein, who was similarly accused of sexual misconduct.
Ron Kaufman, an RNC member from Massachusetts and a former top adviser to Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, denied there was a double standard. “One person says I’m guilty. The other person says I’m not,” Kaufman said.
Unlike Weinstein, who has vaguely acknowledged that he “caused a lot of pain,” Wynn has said he never did anything wrong. That flat-out denial mirrors Trump’s own defense against the nearly two dozen women who have accused him of everything from walking into the dressing room of a teen beauty pageant to reaching under the skirt of a woman at a bar and touching her genitals. The denial strategy was also used by GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore in Alabama last year. …
(Editorial illustration by Tatiana Katara.)
Why The GOP Has Followed Trump Right Off The Deep End
As we are now seeing ever more clearly, the psychic glue that unites many of these groups is an instinctive authoritarianism.
By Richard North Patterson
The HuffPost (2/2/18)
In the real world, evidence mounts that President Donald Trump has striven to obstruct the Russia investigation ― not least by attempting to fire Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Yet his party plunges ever deeper into a fever swamp of fantasy.
There hallucinations breed. The hitherto impeccable Mueller is conducting a partisan witch-hunt. Spearheaded by a “secret society” within its ranks, the FBI conspires against Trump. To cover their tracks, the conspirators destroyed damning text messages ― until the messages were found. Yet another conspirator, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein ― a Republican Trump appointee and Mueller’s superior ― “improperly” extended surveillance of a Trump campaign operative who, beyond dispute, had extensive contacts with Russian officials.
By instinct and design, Trump is profoundly authoritarian. He has succeeded in casting himself as the one-man-fits-all solution to the resentments roiling a party pre-conditioned to fantasy and myth.
Unsatisfied with free-floating hysteria, congressional Republicans have now voted to release a memo, written by GOP congressional staffers and cherry-picked from classified information, that supposedly documents the FBI’s bias. Never mind that a senior official in Trump’s own Justice Department has said that releasing the memo would be “extraordinarily reckless.” Or that the FBI, headed by another Trump appointee, Christopher Wray, publicly stated that “we have grave concerns about material omissions of fact that fundamentally impact the memo’s accuracy.” Or that the memo is a transparent effort to derail the investigation ― including by providing a pretext for firing Rosenstein as a prelude to filing Mueller.
For Trump’s Republican acolytes, only one thing matters ― their leader wants to advance the specious storyline weaponized by this memo to protect himself from investigation, the rule of law be damned. Disdaining the anguished protests from the DOJ and FBI, Trump has authorized its release. And so the GOP propels us toward a constitutional crisis by enabling an American president to attack our system of justice.
Mendacity and autocracy
This craven embrace of mendacity and autocracy is startling, yet, on reflection, not surprising. Nor is there any apparent limit. For the Republican thirst for political Kool-Aid did not begin with Trump.
His lies and self-absorption have eroded America’s communal sense of fact and probity, degrading our expectation of what a president should be. Yet, given numerous opportunities to choose country over party, reason over fantasy, the leaders of his party have remained supine, unable or unwilling to challenge the false narratives which animate a base whose devotion to Trump renders them impervious to his most egregious conduct.
Why? Long before Trump, ever more Republicans became addicted to fact-free narratives through which one right-wing cult or another mesmerized the party faithful. From this petri dish of unreason came Trump’s implacable army …