Here’s how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., handled the news that President Donald Trump had leaked classified information to one of America’s biggest geopolitical rivals:
“I think we could do with a little less drama from the White House on a lot of things so that we can focus on our agenda, which is deregulations, tax reform and repealing and replacing Obamacare.”
And that, in a nutshell, is the Faustian bargain Republicans have made with a president whom the world now knows cannot be trusted with sensitive information, who coddles dictators, who has gone to war with the national security establishment, and whose legion of financial conflicts of interest ensure that the best interests of the nation finish a distant second to his own.
Senior Republicans have tied themselves into rhetorical knots trying to justify Trump’s excesses, apparently having decided they should wring all the victories they can out of his topsy-turvy White House before it either implodes or returns to whatever parallel dimension first belched it forth.
The great irony here, of course, is that, even though they theoretically belong to the same political party, Trump has none of the fealty to the GOP that its leaders are showing him.
Yes, Trump threw his support to the disaster of a healthcare reform bill that anyone with a half-a-brain hopes the Senate will somehow save and/or bury. But he did so even as he indulged those who were hoping for the ouster of its author, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc.
Trump also threatened to run against restive members of the Freedom Caucus who helped scuttle the first version of the hopelessly flawed RyanCare bill.
And now it’s emerged that Trump was apparently showing-off for Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Ambassador Sergey Kislyak when he decided to share that highly classified information about the Islamic State.
Dutifully, Trump’s deputies marched out Tuesday to deny the blockbuster report by The Washington Post, only to pivot less than 24 hours later and find a new angle of attack after Trump essentially confirmed the story with a pair of Tweets.
Sean Spicer, the president’s press secretary, now looks like a hunted man and who must wonder, by the hour, when he’ll be shown the exit.
Yes, Trump, as president, does have the legal right to share classified information if he chooses to do so.
But if one were to ask whether it’s wise to share that information with an oppressive nation backing the despotic regime of Syrian butcher Bashar Al-Assad, the answer is surely “No.”
Trump lacks either the wisdom or the restraint to know the difference.
Some Republicans, such as U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, have spoken out, calling Trump’s actions “very troubling.” But those are minority voices.
From the Michael Flynn debacle to the bungled firing of James Comey, Republicans have winced at this White House’s absurdities, trying to keep their eyes on the broader policy prize.
But a time is fast approaching when Republicans will have to ask themselves what is more important: Power or the principles that undergird our democracy.
They cannot have both.
An award-winning political journalist, Micek is the Opinion Editor and Political Columnist for PennLive/The Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa. Readers may follow him on Twitter @ByJohnLMicek and email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.