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Republicans' chilling surrender to Trump

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Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) backtracked on claims he made on Fox News that no one can be sure it was only Russia who tried to interfere in the 2016 presidential election, saying he misunderstood the question and that he sees no evidence that Ukraine hacked the DNC server.

Posted: Nov 27, 2019 3:20 PM
Updated: Nov 27, 2019 3:20 PM

Sen. John Kennedy is the exception that proves the rule. Kennedy backed away from the absurd Trumpworld fantasy that has claimed the minds of so many of his Republican colleagues. Now, as he told CNN's Chris Cuomo, the senator from Louisiana accepts the truth that it was Russia that interfered in America's 2016 election.

"I was wrong," said Kennedy. "The only evidence I have, and I think it's overwhelming, is that it was Russia who tried to hack the DNC ... I've seen no indication that Ukraine tried to do it."

The reversal may indicate that Kennedy has a moral sensibility or is smart enough to see that his previous statement to Fox's Chris Wallace -- that no one knows who did the crime -- made him look ridiculous. Then again, his first claim was sure to reach (and please) the President's core supporters. Fox News viewers who nodded along aren't likely to learn of his new position, stated on CNN. Thus, the senator can have it both ways.

Kennedy's Russia-Ukraine dance reflects the larger closing of Republican minds to the damage wreaked by the President's campaign to destroy fact-based politics and public morality. One by one, many formerly respectable politicians have joined a cult devoted to Trump's conspiracy theories and self-serving claims.

The spectacle has become more pronounced of late, with the most craven example coming from former Texas governor and current secretary of energy Rick Perry, who called Trump "the chosen one" and explained that he's part of "God's plan for the people who rule and judge over us on this planet in our government."

Perry once knew better when it came to the nature of Donald Trump. "He offers a barking carnival act that can be best described as Trumpism: a toxic mix of demagoguery, mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued," said Perry in 2015 as he called for Trump's defeat in the 2016 primaries.

What changed between 2015 and today?

In Perry can we see a man who apparently recognized the grip Trump had on the GOP base, joined the cabinet and became ever-more co-opted? By the spring of 2019, according to testimony given in the impeachment inquiry hearings, he became a witting or unwitting part of the President's scheme to force Ukraine to gin-up an investigation of Democratic presidential rival Joe Biden in order to receive desperately needed aid in its war with Russia. Perry has denied being part of any conversation in which the Bidens came up.

As the world surely knows by now, Perry's experience reflects a pattern for those who dare to enter Trump's orbit. As insiders, they witness the power of Trump's ability to demonize those who stand against him, rally voters to his side and deflect efforts to get at the truth.

Only those with the strongest moral and intellectual code -- think former Secretary of Defense James Mattis -- can avoid being compromised and, as Mattis showed when he resigned, no one can maintain the struggle indefinitely.

Sadly, few in the top ranks of the administration or among Republicans on Capitol Hill show Mattis-style strength. The worst offender is Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who claimed a close friendship with John McCain, deceased war hero and senator, but has now been rebuked by McCain's daughter for failing to stand against the President. Once capable of criticizing Trump as "religious bigot," Graham now functions as an abject apologist and craven enabler.

Most recently, he has given Trump what he sought from Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky by opening a Senate investigation into the Bidens. His abuse of power, as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, seeks to advance Trump's lie-based smear of a political opponent. "That's the way it works in politics," he said, defending the Biden investigation.

Others in the camp of the craven now include Rep. Will Hurd of Texas who, though he is resigning and once stood as a critic of the White House, listened to extensive testimony regarding Trump's alleged bribery and extortion efforts and announced, "I have not heard evidence proving the President committed bribery or extortion."

Others who seem unable to hear, or reason, include former United Nations ambassador Nikki Haley, who now agrees that Trump is heaven sent, and Sen. Rand Paul, who went from Trump critic to bromantic partner. The president has said, "Rand Paul is a very special guy as far as I'm concerned. He's never let me down."

Trump's statement about Paul was both a dominance display and an endorsement the senator can present to voters who follow Trump's lead. By seeking the President's praise, Paul complied with the dynamic of capitulation that seems to overwhelm Republicans in Washington.

Too weak to resist, they see survival in joining the cult that degrades the nation a little bit more every day. What they don't seem to realize is that there will be an America and a Republican Party after Trump, but the damage they are doing now will make it much harder for both to recover.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 118587

Reported Deaths: 3310
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds8050179
DeSoto728580
Harrison549185
Jackson480088
Rankin404686
Madison386194
Lee366582
Forrest311878
Jones296684
Washington2627100
Lafayette255043
Lauderdale2546135
Lamar231940
Oktibbeha204855
Bolivar203979
Neshoba1868111
Lowndes181962
Panola172040
Leflore170688
Sunflower164349
Warren156156
Monroe153873
Pontotoc150620
Marshall148430
Lincoln143359
Pike140656
Copiah139336
Scott127029
Coahoma125837
Union125825
Yazoo123434
Simpson123149
Grenada122939
Tate121039
Itawamba117226
Leake116342
Pearl River116360
Holmes115060
Adams109445
Prentiss109220
Alcorn104512
Wayne102722
George101719
Covington98829
Marion95943
Tippah94924
Newton87227
Hancock86828
Chickasaw86727
Tallahatchie85526
Winston85221
Tishomingo82741
Attala80527
Clarke77053
Clay71022
Jasper69617
Walthall64427
Calhoun63313
Noxubee60217
Smith60216
Yalobusha56416
Montgomery55823
Lawrence54414
Claiborne53916
Tunica53717
Perry52423
Carroll50312
Stone49114
Greene48118
Humphreys45117
Amite42813
Quitman4236
Jefferson Davis42112
Webster37813
Benton36710
Wilkinson34221
Kemper33315
Sharkey28715
Jefferson27910
Franklin2513
Choctaw2096
Issaquena1074
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 161537

Reported Deaths: 2718
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson23769383
Mobile17039318
Tuscaloosa10539141
Montgomery10435199
Madison946798
Shelby756365
Baldwin674369
Lee662465
Calhoun468962
Marshall445251
Etowah436552
Morgan426335
Houston421234
DeKalb351229
Elmore326558
St. Clair307042
Limestone295131
Walker285593
Talladega273937
Cullman260025
Lauderdale237143
Jackson221917
Autauga210331
Colbert208232
Franklin207732
Blount198825
Russell19763
Chilton190932
Dallas188127
Coffee182611
Dale180852
Covington176729
Escambia175331
Clarke138017
Chambers137047
Pike135514
Tallapoosa135387
Marion110331
Barbour10459
Marengo103522
Butler101541
Winston94313
Geneva9357
Lawrence87733
Pickens87418
Bibb85615
Randolph84316
Hale78030
Cherokee76114
Clay75812
Washington75412
Henry7286
Lowndes71728
Monroe66010
Bullock65017
Crenshaw61130
Perry5966
Fayette59413
Cleburne5779
Wilcox57112
Conecuh56513
Macon54120
Lamar5165
Sumter47721
Choctaw39412
Greene34616
Coosa2143
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