Once-proud Republican, hardcore conservative Nichols:
So, basically, GOP senators went to Moscow on the Fourth of July to see if US companies could make a few bucks off of the president’s coming capitulation to Putin. The Republican Party has now completed the trashing of America’s bipartisan victory in the Cold War. https://t.co/ehbcmW1dNw
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) July 6, 2018
If we can’t prevent these GOP traitors from selling us all out to the highest bidder, we can at least point out exactly how cheaply they can be bought…
GOP Senators promised to@be tough on Russia, ‘but they struck a conciliatory tone once there.’
Also, they were disappointed Putin would not see them. https://t.co/XJDT3tBbL7
— Trip Gabriel (@tripgabriel) July 6, 2018
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…
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.”…
“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….
Where are all the optics experts on Republican members of Congress spending the midterm election year Independence Day holiday in Russia on a candy-and-chocolates delegation w/o any Democrats present, putting the Republicans in Moscow when a second Novichok incident hit the UK?
— southpaw (@nycsouthpaw) July 5, 2018
The hardworking second-shift timecard punchers WANT Vladimir Putin and his thugs to be able to murder people in foreign cities as needed.
— S.V. Dáte (@svdate) July 5, 2018
Russian senator Andrei Klimov tells me US lawmakers didn't bring up Crimea during Moscow meeting: "I didn't hear the word 'Crimea' once in 2 hours."
— Lucian Kim (@Lucian_Kim) July 3, 2018
Mystified as to why it's not the top story today that 7 US Senator visited Moscow Tuesday for a "conciliatory" meeting with their Russian counterparts, on the same day the GOP-led Senate Intel Comm released a report that Russia interfered to elect Trump in 2016.
— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) July 5, 2018
Also at the Washington Post, Dana Milbank:
“What does July 4th mean to me? Freedom,” Sen. Ron Johnson chirruped on Twitter on Independence Day.
For the Wisconsin Republican, it meant, specifically, the freedom to spend July 4 in Moscow with seven other Republican lawmakers posing for propaganda photos with Russian officials. On the same day it was reported in Britain that two more people had been poisoned by a Russian nerve agent British officials say came from Vladimir Putin’s regime. On the day after the Senate Intelligence Committee affirmed the U.S. intelligence community’s conclusion that Russia interfered in the election to help Donald Trump.
Johnson and his colleagues apparently exercised their freedom not to meet with opposition or civil society figures (those whom the Putin regime has not imprisoned or killed), avoiding the risk of offending their hosts. They also exercised their freedom to soft-pedal their criticism of the Russian government, leading Russian politicians and state media to mock them as supplicants.
Yet despite this lavish display of the freedom to kowtow, they didn’t get the meeting they hoped for with Putin himself. He was busy, the Kremlin said…
So, what do we call these Red Square Republicans? My interlocutors on Twitter suggest “Moscow Mules.” Or, given the position they put themselves in before our masters in Moscow, perhaps they should be called the Prostrate Eight…
One can hardly wait to see the lawmakers’ next codel: meeting with wounded Taliban fighters on Veterans Day? A Memorial Day wreath-laying for fallen members of Saddam Hussein’s Republican Guard? Flag Day at a street protest in Tehran?
Soon they’ll be meeting with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and praising him as talented, honest and trustworthy. Oh, wait…
— laura olin (@lauraolin) July 5, 2018
I’m not that bothered that Senate Republicans spent July 4th in Moscow … I’m bothered they said this about a country that interfered in the 2016 election & will likely do it again https://t.co/G3n5Sljogc pic.twitter.com/1bFPBWHF9B
— Michael Cohen (@speechboy71) July 5, 2018
No kidding. None of the Moscow 7 Senators are up for reelection this year, suggesting a least a bit of calculation among Republicans eager to support whatever the hell their President decides to give to Putin.
— Joseph Britt (@Zathras3) July 5, 2018