Senate Republicans have reacted to the resignation of National Security Adviser Mike Flynn by calling for an investigation into the Trump administration’s supposed ties to Russia, dating back to the presidential campaign.
Sen Roy Blunt (R-MO) said Tuesday: “I think we should look into it exhaustively so that at the end of this process, nobody wonders whether there was a stone left unturned, and shouldn’t reach conclusions before you have the information that you need to have to make those conclusions.”
The White House has not reacted, but would no doubt have been taken aback to see so many Republicans climbing onto the Democrats’ bandwagon. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) — perhaps sensing an opportunity to reach out to the Trump administration — said Republicans shouldn’t bother: “I think the President has handled the situation.”
Actually, the best move for President Trump would not be to discourage a Russia probe, but to widen it, back to President Barack Obama’s 2007-8 campaign.
The question for Congress should not be a hyper-partisan, conspiratorial inquiry into whether the Trump administration — has links to Russia — especially when there is no evidence of anything untoward — but the overall degree to which Russia has penetrated American policymaking.
We know that former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had dubious links to Russia, via campaign chair John Podesta’s board position in a Russian-linked company, and the Clinton Foundation’s role in a shady uranium deal.
But the questions go much further. The Obama administration gave away so much to Russia, especially during the years 2009-2014, that it could almost be described as a Russian proxy.
Consider the following calamitous track record:
- 2009: Russian “reset” – Obama and Clinton declare a new era of relations with the Kremlin and abandon plans for a missile defense system in Europe — double-crossing key NATO allies, Poland and the Czech Republic, and leaving them vulnerable.
- 2010: The New START Treaty – Obama, renewing his undergraduate interest in arms reduction, signs a one-sided treaty that effectively calls for steeper reductions on the American side than on the Russian side. Congress, reluctantly, ratifies the treaty.
- 2011: Cheating – The Obama administration concludes Russia has been cheating on the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty. Nevertheless, the administration waits two years to object, and presses ahead for further arms reductions.
- 2012: Hot mic – President Obama is caught on a live microphone asking Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to convey to then-Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that he would have “more flexibility” on missile defense after the election.
- 2013: Syria – Embarrassed by Syria’s breach of Obama’s “red line” on the use of chemical weapons, Secretary of State John Kerry agrees to a Russian-brokered deal to dispose of the regime’s weapons that leaves dictator Bashar al-Assad in power.
The appeasement started before Obama took office. In August 2008, when Russia invaded Georgia, then-Sen. Obama produced a very weak response, calling on “all sides” to refrain from violence. A campaign aide, Michael McFaul, was already in Moscow before Election Day, meeting with Russian officials. He told the Washington Post last week that “he was careful never to signal pending policy changes before Obama took office.”
Really? How do we know? We should find out.
The Obama-Putin appeasement soured when Russia invaded Crimea in 2014, leaving Kerry sputtering about “19th century rules.” Clearly, the administration was caught off guard. Yet why had it been appeasing Russia for so long in the first place?
So let the Senate announce a thorough investigation into Russian influence in American political campaigns and government, going all the way back to Obama’s first campaign. Make Obama and Clinton testify.
Watch Democrats suddenly lose interest.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He was named one of the “most influential” people in news media in 2016. His new book, How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.