The key word here is “appropriations.” So when Richard Shelby, chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, goes to Russia to meet with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, the American press ought to sit up and take notice. This is an odd thing for an Appropriations Chairman to do. When he drags along four other members of his committee and two non-member Republicans, the news gets odder still. That all of those members are exclusively Republican ought to set off alarm bells too. And the oddness doesn’t stop there. Shelby also brought along Rep. Kay Granger of Texas, a senior member of the House Appropriations Committee, also a Republican.
So the question remains: what the hell are seven Republican Senators and one Republican Congresswoman doing in Russia? Their employers (the American people) don’t get to know. Much of their meeting is being conducted in secret, so all we have going for us is Comrade Speculation. Does it have anything to do with Trump’s meeting with Vladimir Putin later this month?
We do know that Donald Trump will be meeting on July 16th in Helsinki with Putin. Part of that meeting will be in secret. That’s right, secret. No press, no onlookers, no recording devices. We have to take the word of two pathological liars about what will transpire there. Putin speaks excellent English (when addressing a polyglot crowd he frequently corrects the Russian-to-English translator) and Donald Trump speaks passable English, so together they should have little difficulty understanding one another.
Since appropriations are strongly and rather oddly overrepresented in these current talks, one is left to wonder what they’ll be appropriating. We know Donald Trump has already personally enriched himself handsomely since taking office. Are these Republicans looking for their share too? Are they there to pay homage and patronage to their Lord and Master Putin? Are they there to collude further with the Russians to fix or manipulate the midterm elections? We don’t know, and Comrade Speculation can only … speculate. But one thing we do know with almost certain clarity: it can’t be good news for the American people.
Robert Harrington is an American expat living in Britain. He is a portrait painter.