After traveling to Moscow over the 4th of July holiday, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) – the chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, who also chairs a Senate Foreign Relations panel – came back with some unexpectedly provocative thoughts about U.S. policy toward Russia.
For example, the Wisconsin Republican questioned the efficacy of existing sanctions, before insisting that concerns about foreign interference in American elections has been blown “way out of proportion.”
Johnson’s comments looked a little worse when, a week later, 12 Russian intelligence officials were indicted for their role in attacking our political system in 2016.
But at least Johnson can argue he hadn’t seen the new indictment when he made his recent comments – which is more than we can say about Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who waited until after the indictment to make the case that the attack on our elections was no big deal. The Kentucky Republican, who also serves on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told CNN’s Jake Tapper yesterday, “We all do it.”
“I think really we mistake our response if we think it’s about accountability from the Russians. They are another country. They are going to spy on us. The do spy on us. They are going to interfere in our elections. We also do the same.”
Around the same time, Jon Huntsman, the Trump administration’s ambassador to Russia, told Fox News, “We’ve got to at some point quit looking in the rear-view mirror. We have to be informed by what we’ve been through and use that to educate us as we go forward. But at some point, we have to look forward.”
It was literally three days ago when the U.S. Justice Department issued an indictment and presented evidence of Putin’s government attacking our political system. It’s against this backdrop that some prominent Republican officials told a national television audience that they just don’t much care.
If we needed fresh evidence that this really is Donald Trump’s party, we have it.