Have the Republicans just found their excuse for strategically ousting Donald Trump?

When you look at how many Republicans in Congress have tried to protect Donald Trump specifically from his Russia scandal, and how far over the top some of them have gone with it, it’s not difficult to figure out that Vladimir Putin has some – ahem – influence over a whole lot of Republican politicians. But by now the GOP knows it needs to strategically dump Trump if it wants to continue existing as a party. Now it may have finally found a back door to push Trump out of.

Even as certain prominent Republicans like Lindsey Graham have bent over backward and ruined their own reputations to try to downplay the Trump-Russia scandal, some of these same Republicans are now trying really hard to expose the Jamal Khashoggi scandal. Today’s hearings saw GOP Senate leaders doing everything they could to nail Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman for Khashoggi’s murder – and they know full well that by incriminating Bin Salman on this, they’re incriminating Trump, who has already publicly married himself to Bin Salman on this.

So why do this? Why are some of the savvier Republicans in Congress going so far out of their way to throw Donald Trump under the bus in his Saudi Arabia scandal, even as these same folks continue protecting Trump from his Russia scandal? The only difference here is the “Russia” part. This brings us back to the long-running question of just what Putin has over the GOP, and how he’s specifically using it.

Let’s say that the GOP has taken a look at its midterm losses, concluded that it’s only going to get worse for the party as long as Donald Trump is in the picture, and has selfishly decided to oust him. Let’s further say that Putin has given up on Trump as well, as evidenced by recent developments. But if Putin does have control over the Republicans, he may not allow them to use the Trump-Russia scandal to oust Trump, for fear it’ll blow back on Putin.

The most obvious way forward for Putin and the GOP would be to take Donald Trump down by using one of his other scandals. The murder of Jamal Khashoggi, and Trump’s complicity in it, is the kind of truly ugly scandal that could do the trick. Putin’s puppet Bin Salman would take a severe hit in the process, but since when does Putin care about the fate of his puppets? If this is what’s going on, it would explain why the Senate GOP is suddenly trying to use the Saudi scandal to rip Trump to pieces.

Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report

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