There were some fascinating exchanges yesterday between reporters and congressional Republicans on the Trump-Russia scandal, but for my money, it's tough to top the interview NBC News' Kasie Hunt had with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in a Capitol Hill hallway.
HUNT: Is Russia an enemy of the United States?CRUZ: Russia is a significant adversary. Putin is a KGB thug.HUNT: Do you think that Trump is treating them that way?CRUZ: I think that we have had eight years of Barack Obama showing nothing but appeasement towards RussiaHUNT: President Trump is not appeasing Russia?
The Texas Republican, reluctant to answer the question directly, kept trying to complain about Obama -- because some habits evidently die hard. Hunt ultimately reminded Cruz that Trump is trying to water down a bill on Russian sanctions that Cruz (and 96 other senators) voted for.
The GOP lawmaker responded, "The policies of the Obama administration were constant weakness and appeasement...."
Sure, this was unpleasant to watch. It was also rather predictable: despite Trump targeting Cruz's wife and father during their race for the Republican presidential nomination, the Texas senator votes with the White House's position more than 95% of the time and is eager to carry Trump's water.
But if Cruz sincerely wants to talk about Russian appeasement, he may not like where the conversation ends up.
If you missed last night's show, I hope you'll take a few minutes to watch Rachel's segment on the Trump administration checking a whole lot of boxes on Vladimir Putin's wish list over the last six months.
From Moscow's perspective, it'd be in Russia's strategic interests to isolate the United States, fracture Western alliances, weaken sanctions, gain more control in Syria, diminish the influence of the State Department, and go unpunished for last year's attack on the U.S. elections.
Trump has delivered on each of these points -- while also providing Russia with some highly classified intelligence, just as an added gift.
With Trump in office -- an opportunity he received thanks in part to a Russian espionage operation -- the White House is giving Putin's government pretty much everything the Kremlin wants. In the Trump administration, what Russia wants, Russia gets.
Ted Cruz wants to have a conversation about U.S. weakness and appeasement towards Moscow? That's a great idea.