Vladimir Putin’s puppets in the Republican Congress

As we count down the days until Democrats officially take control of the House of Representatives, we can be sure to witness more desperate actions from Republicans. Donald Trump could not even wait a full day after the midterm elections before he fired Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Trump and other Republicans in Congress are vocalizing their beliefs that counting every vote somehow constitutes an effort to steal an election. While many believe that they are just being bad losers, others believe this unhinged behavior is due to a more sinister explanation.

Many political pundits have espoused the narrative that Trump is beholden to Russian President Vladamir Putin. Whether it is through the use of blackmail or simply a quid pro quo in which Putin helped Trump steal the 2016 election in exchange for the promise of removing sanctions, it is clear to most observers that Trump is politically (and perhaps financially) owned by the Kremlin. Over the past two years, the sudden change in statements and actions of many Republicans in Congress has led some to believe these Republicans are also working against the best interests of America.

Richard Painter, the chief ethics lawyer from George W. Bush’s administration, and Leanne Watt, a clinical psychologist, recently penned an article to describe the hidden motivations of many top GOP members in regards to their cooperation with Trump and Russia, including “their passive, servile response to Trump’s irrational and dangerous behavior.”

With Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation getting closer to Trump and his family, Painter and Watt explain that, in a typical political world, congressional Republicans would look to put additional space between themselves and Trump. However, as we have witnessed, “this reasonable expectation is far from the reality of what is happening.” There is no logical explanation for why someone like Senator Lindsey Graham, a vocal critic of Trump, has become one of his most ardent supporters. The only explanation, as Painter and Watt explain, is that the net of Russian influence over Trump is much larger than some originally thought.