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Republicans on Russia trip face scorn and ridicule from critics at home

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By Karoun Demirjian
July 5 at 10:54 PM
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Republican lawmakers who went to Russia seeking a thaw in relations received an icy reception from Democrats and Kremlin watchers for spending the Fourth of July in a country that interfered in the U.S. presidential election and continues to deny it.

“Cannot believe GOP, once the party that stood strong against Soviets & only a decade ago sought to democratize the Middle East, is now surrendering so foolishly to [Russian President Vladimir] Putin and the Kremlin’s kleptocracy — only two years ­after Russia interfered in U.S. election,” tweeted Clint Watts, an information warfare specialist at the Foreign Policy Research Institute and frequent featured expert before congressional panels examining Russian influence operations.

“Russians wooing with a shopworn song — repugnant as nails on a blackboard,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) wrote in a Twitter post in response to the delegation’s trip. “They are enemies and adversaries, attacking us.”

Sen. Richard C. Shelby (R-Ala.) led the eight-member delegation on a multiday tour of St. Petersburg and Moscow, a trip that included meetings with Russia’s foreign minister and parliamentarians. It did not include a session that senators had been hoping for: a meeting with Putin, whom President Trump is scheduled to meet at a summit this month.

Joining Shelby were Sens. Steve Daines (R-Mont.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), John Kennedy (R-La.), Jerry Moran (R-Kan.), John Thune (R-S.D.) and Rep. Kay Granger (R-Tex.).

Members of the delegation set off on their trip late last week promising to be tough with Russian officials ahead of the president’s visit, especially on matters of election interference. But they struck a conciliatory tone once there: The point of their visit, Shelby stressed to the Duma leader, was to “strive for a better relationship” with Moscow, not “accuse Russia of this or that or so forth.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, listens to Sen. Richard C. Shelby, third from right, during a meeting with Republican senators on July 3 in Moscow. (Alexander Zemlianichenko/AP)

It played well in Moscow, but not on the home front.

[Republican lawmakers come to Moscow, raising hopes there of U.S.-Russia thaw]

“Politicians celebrate Independence Day in many ways. Some march in a parade. Some attend a barbecue or watch fireworks,” tweeted Richard Painter, an ethics lawyer in President George W. Bush’s administration who is running for the Senate in Minnesota as a Democrat. “But others must travel further to meet with their most important constituents.”

The senators who posted Fourth of July messages on social media while still in Moscow took some of the sharpest criticism, some of which highlighted that while they met with Kremlin-connected officials, Britain discovered that two of its citizens had been poisoned by a suspected Russian nerve agent, the same substance that injured a former Russian spy and his daughter in England in March.

Others pointed out that while the delegation was in Russia, the Senate Intelligence Committee released a report finding Russia had interfered in the 2016 presidential election with a clear preference for helping Trump defeat former secretary of state Hillary Clinton. Only one of the delegation participants, Kennedy, sits on a congressional panel that has looked into the Russia probe.

Appearing Thursday on Fox News, Daines said the Russia trip had been “productive.”

“We sent a very strong message and a direct message to the Russian government,” he said, ticking off four items he said they pressed while there: Don’t interfere in U.S. elections, respect the sovereignty of Ukraine, work with us toward peace in Syria, and uphold obligations under nuclear arms treaties.

That message did not appear to have much impact, though.

“We heard things we’d heard before, and I think our guests heard rather clearly and distinctly an answer that they already knew — we don’t interfere in American elections,” said Sergey Kislyak, the former Russian ambassador to the United States and now a member of Russia’s upper house of parliament.

On Russian state television, presenters and guests mocked the U.S. congressional delegation for appearing to put a weak foot forward, noting how the message of tough talk they promised in Washington “changed a bit” by the time they got to Moscow.

“We need to look down at them and say: You came because you needed to, not because we did,” Igor Korotchenko, a Russian military expert, said on a talk show on state-run television.

The congressional GOP’s prominent foreign policy voices have remained quiet about the trip, declining to comment about the visit’s significance. Last week, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) remarked only that Jon Huntsman, the U.S. ambassador to Russia, had been urging several colleagues to visit.

In comments to reporters, Huntsman defended the delegation’s efforts as important.

“Election meddling was stress­ed in ways that have never been discussed before,” Huntsman said Thursday, pointing out that the congressional delegation was the largest to visit Russia in recent memory. “The fact of the matter is that we have not had the kind of conversations, across-the-table conversations — about things like election meddling and malign activity — that really do need to take place.”

“You can’t solve problems if you’re not willing to talk about them,” he added.


WTH? And on the 4th of July?

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First, an interlude for our resident rash-on-our-ass shithead:

Stop wasting everyone's time and kill yourself, you tiresome nothing-to-offer Nazi-apologist scum.

Now that that unpleasantness is over, on to the actual topic.

For people who keep protesting that there's "no collusion" and that they take Russian meddling seriously, they sure have no clue how to make themselves look serious about that. That's how they spent their July 4th -- whispering with their allies, the Russians, the only ones who might save their asses come November of 2018 and 2020. Make no mistake, this was a business meeting.

Russia meddled in the election - a hostile act if ever there was one - and nothing's been done about it. No serious effort has been made to stop it from happening again... because the Republicans want it to. As long as it works in their favor, fuck Democracy, fuck the Constitution, fuck the rule of law, fuck freedom and fuck everything America stands for. They can worry about all that once Daddy Vladdy keeps his pet fat boy in office, surrounded by appeasers. They don't give a damn about this country, just their own power.

Perhaps even more alarming than the treasonous congresscritters is the fact that the Republican party is quickly turning into a bunch of Russia suckups.

Whatever Romney says (and, lo and behold, he's not always wrong, and I don't think anyone ever claimed he was), much of the GOP base has become so brainwashed that they think Russia are our buddies now.

In a May 18-22 poll, 36 percent of GOP voters said they consider Russia friendly to the United States, and 13 percent said it was an ally. That 49 percent total is up 11 points from a survey in late March, when 28 percent of Republicans saw Russia as friendly to the United States and 10 percent of them viewed the country as an ally.

Trump tells them to think a thing and, being well-trained from an early age not to question the preacher but just obey, they're going along with that.

No, that sound you hear's not a helicopter hovering over your house... it's just Ronald Reagan spinning in his grave.

Over history, the GOP and the Dems have swapped sides on a lot of things. Back in Lincoln's day, the Republicans were the liberals and the Dems were the conservatives, for the most part. Then in the civil rights era, there was a big switch-over. Now in the Trump days, it appears that the Republicans, who were once the big Russia hawks, are becoming the Commie-appeasers, wanting to do Putin's bidding. Those of us raised under Reagan find this a bit bewildering, and yet, there it is.

Brainwashing's a helluva drug, and the conservative base is hooked on it. It's the FOX News effect.

Imagine if Obama wanted a secret, no-witnesses meeting with Putin. Oh, Sean Hannity would vapor-lock if that happened.

But will any of them raise an eyebrow at this?

At the recent G7 meeting, Donald Trump kicked off the proceedings by urging the group to let Russia rejoin, made a series of derogatory comments to the assembled leaders, then left the meeting early in a huff. His planned meeting with Vladimir Putin later this summer appears to be friendlier. Trump, CNN reports, plans to meet with Putin one on one, with no advisers or staff.

“Without official note-takers or other witnesses,” CNN notes, “one-on-one meetings lack any official record, making it difficult afterward to determine whether agreements have been reached.” Huh, that’s weird. It’s almost as if Trump has some kind of secret relationship involving money or blackmail with Russia he wants to discuss without fear of being revealed to his own country!

HE dark cloud of collusion allegations hangs heavily over the upcoming US-Russia presidential summit. But President Donald Trump seems oblivious to the coming storm.

He’s insisting on a quiet one-on-one chat, away from the ears of the aides who almost always accompany such high-stakes diplomatic meetings.

There will be no notes taken. No official records made.

There will be no witnesses to what takes place between them.

So there will be no evidence of any agreements reached or compromises being made.

This is incredibly guilty behavior on the part of a guy under investigation for secret dealings with Russia, but Trump doesn't balk at it because (A) he knows that his base is so brainwashed that they'll forgive him anything -- he has so much contempt for their "intelligence" at this point that he's making no effort to even try putting a nice face on it; his mind-slaves will do what they're told, so there's no reason to waste effort on making things look good, and (B) he knows that when anyone not in his cult points out how shady this all is, it'll only make his supporters flock to him even harder, just out of hatred for "the leftists" -- i.e. anyone who isn't a Trumpist.

And, there's a reason he'll take all that for granted -- it's because it'll work. He knows his base, he knows how mindlessly obedient they are. They'll gladly let Russia screw up this country, just to "pwn the libs." It's all they care about anymore.

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Floridatexan wrote:
By Karoun Demirjian
July 5 at 10:54 PM
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Republican lawmakers who went to Russia seeking .... 

Wow!  Seriously?

Well, regardless of why they went to Russsia ... all I'm thinking upon reading the first part of that first sentence is, talk about your "bad optics"!!!!

Four months before Congressional mid-terms? Don't these guys have political advisors?  Are they really that tone-deaf?


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