Now that the Republican-controlled Congress is increasingly taking incremental political and legislative stands against a sinking Donald Trump, he’s begun begun hurling insults and threats at them in return. That’s culminated in the Republicans supporting a Democratic sanctions bill against Russia in near unanimous fashion, and forcing Trump to sign it. But now, in retaliation, the Russian government is vowing to target Congress.
On a live broadcast of a Kremlin-controlled TV news station, a host said today that in response to the sanctions bill, “We need to elect our own U.S. Congress.” (source link). On the surface, this was an acknowledgment that the Kremlin elected Donald Trump to begin with. But it’s also, essentially, a declaration of war on the Republican Congress that allowed this sanctions bill to happen to Russia and Trump.
The potential ramifications are staggering. Does this mean that the Russian government truly intends to try to rig the Congressional midterm races in 2018? If so, how would it even find enough viable puppet candidates willing to support easing sanctions? It was tricky enough for the Kremlin to try to control Trump and usher him into office; try multiplying that times the hundreds of mini-Trumps which would be required to amass a Congressional majority. And if the Kremlin were to simply try sabotaging the Republicans in Congress as punishment, the end result would be more Democrats in Congress, which would be of no use to Russia either. So this may prove to be a hollow threat.
At the least this helps underscore that Donald Trump wants a war against the Republican Congress, both as a form of strategically scapegoating his own failures in office, and as retaliation for what he sees as a lack of loyalty. And while it’s far from clear that the Kremlin is still willing to prop up Trump now that he’s officially and permanently failed to deliver sanctions relief, it is clear that the Kremlin will not be on the side of the Republican Congress as Trump spitefully goes to war with it.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report