Should Republican elected officials ignore potential wrongdoing by Republicans? Should Republicans ignore credible concerns about foreign tampering with our government? If you’re Senator Rand Paul (R-KY), the answer to both of these questions is yes.
President Trump’s National Security Adviser Michael Flynn resigned under pressure after it was revealed he communicated with Russia about the sanctions placed by former President Obama and lead the vice-president to believe there had been no communication about sanctions. Asked about an investigation, Paul said in a radio interview:
“I just don’t think it’s useful to be doing investigation after investigation, particularly of your own party. We’ll never even get started with doing the things we need to do like repealing ObamaCare if we’re spending our whole time having Republicans investigate Republicans. I think it makes no sense.”
It’s a stunning statement from someone whose father, retired Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX), was known for his willingness to be a thorn in the side of administrations of either party in favor of defending the Constitution and the best interests of the country. Paul’s suggestion shows how partisan politics has corrupted our government. Members of Congress take an oath to the Constitution to serve as a member of a co-equal branch of government. Their first duty ought to be the country, not to their party.
On the heels of Flynn’s resignation, the New York Times has reported Trump campaign aides and allies had repeated contacts with “senior Russian Intelligence officials,” during last year ’s campaign. Americans need to know the extent of the communications between Russia and the Trump campaign, and if anyone in the Trump Administration has been compromised. If wrongdoing is uncovered, that classic question of what did the President know and when did he know it must be answered as well.
There should be no whitewashing of the campaign’s relationship with Russia, nor should the President and his administration be railroaded. There needs to be an effort to get to the truth.
This may put at risk much of the important work Republicans want to accomplish. I don’t think it derails it but it will slow it down. However, in nominating and electing a President who had ethics concerns and who surrounded him with people who had questionable ties to a hostile foreign power, Republicans guaranteed they’d have these problems. One only need look at history. President Clinton could have gotten a bi-partisan social security reform bill passed had the Lewinsky affair not intervened. His Presidency was dogged by one scandal after another that required the investigation of Congressional committees and his impeachment trial took up the Senate calendar for weeks.
No matter whether Bill Clinton or Donald Trump is the president with flawed character, their supporters tend to dismiss the candidate’s character flaws as peripheral to how they will “get the job done.” Yet character has a direct impact on a president’s ability to govern. We are now dealing with the consequences of supporting “a lesser evil.”
Rand Paul was among many Republicans who cited their pledge to support the party’s nominee as a reason why they had to back Trump. It was a posture that cloaked a partisan act in an aura of honor that portrayed Senator Paul as “a man of his word.” The question is whether Senator Paul’s oath to his country to protect the constitution and defend it with from enemies foreign and domestic will carry as much weight as his oath to his party to support the Republican nominee.
Republicans can choose to sweep these allegations under the rug, however they would be ill-advised to do so. These are serious questions. If Republicans refuse to take action, the Democrats will have little problem exploiting this in the midterm elections. Voters may decide, if Republicans investigating Republicans doesn’t make sense, then Democrats investigating Republicans does.