The Republicans’ Hypocrisy

By Nora Shepard

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and President Trump meet in the Oval Office on May 10. Photo by Alexander Shcherbak / TASS via Getty, taken from The Atlantic

These past few weeks have been rough for Republican power players. First, Trump fired FBI Director James Comey without warning. Then he revealed highly classified information to Russian officials. Both of these events have similar overtones to the very thing that Hillary’s haters accused her so vehemently of during the election cycle. Republicans, including Trump, are drowning in hypocrisy and don’t seem to care at all.

“Clinton’s conduct was a severe error in judgment that grossly endangered our national security and put highly classified information at risk.This development is another reminder Hillary Clinton cannot be trusted with the presidency.” -Reince Priebus, February 2016, current Chief of Staff.

Republicans who harped on Clinton for her handling of the emails are probably growing increasingly uncomfortable with how this administration is progressing. As we all know, Hillary was under FBI investigation for her handling of the emails. No doubt, Clinton and her team were extremely careless when it came to handling classified information, and she deserved criticism for that. However, the FBI found no evidence that it was intentional. There’s also no evidence it was shared with anybody it wasn’t supposed to be shared with. That’s not to say there shouldn’t have been repurcussions for her behavior. If the FBI investigation had found something substantial or incriminating, it would be expected that Democrats admit to Hillary’s wrongdoing. But neither investigation — which Republicans carried on for over a year — found any evidence of intentional wrongdoing, and that’s the key.

The emails, the emails. That’s all anybody heard about for months leading up to the election. Republicans latched onto the email scandal like leeches. They couldn’t understand why anyone would vote for a criminal — because after all, only criminals ever find themselves under FBI investigation.

“Most honest people I know are not under FBI investigation, let alone two.” -Kellyanne Conway, October 2016, current Counselor to the president.

Trump initially claimed this firing was because of how Comey handled the Clinton investigation, but it’s now been revealed that it was really because Trump felt the FBI was getting too close for comfort. The White House has changed its story about why Comey was fired several times, and Trump has even said on-air that he was thinking of “this Russia thing” when he decided to fire Comey; to admit that he fired Comey because, at least in part, of the Russia investigation is a clear obstruction of justice. Because of Trump’s behavior, the comments that are coming back to haunt Republicans are those they made about the fact that Clinton was under investigation in the first place.

“Can this country afford to have a President under investigation by the FBI?” -Marco Rubio, November 2016, United States Senator

Trump is now under investigation by the FBI for colluding with Russia. The hypocrisy is palpable.

Then, the Washington Post published a scathing story that revealed Trump told Russian officials highly sensitive and classified information. The White House scrambled to deny the story, with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster curtly stating that the story was false. Early yesterday, Trump addressed the accusations (on Twitter, no less). He showed no remorse. He didn’t try to deny the Post article. In fact, miraculously but not surprisingly, Trump defended his actions, saying that he has “the absolute right” to release information to anyone he wants.

For the record, that’s true. If this were anybody but the president, there would be swift and serious ramifications. The person would be immediately fired, and possibly serve time. But the president can use their judgment to declassify information when they see it as necessary. That said, there has always been a process for declassifying information, especially for something of this magnitude.

This information was so sensitive that it was shared with few people within the American government. It was labeled as “code-word,” which means it had the highest level of clearance that intelligence can have. Code-word is even higher than “top secret.” The Manhattan Project (through which the United States developed the atomic bomb) is an example of a “code-word” project. The Manhattan Poject was so secret that even Vice President Truman was unaware of it until he assumed his role as President. This makes you wonder: what atomic level information did Trump reveal to the Russians?

According to a U.S. official, Trump “revealed more information to the Russian ambassador than we have shared with our own allies.” The information he shared came from Israel (though their identity was previously undisclosed). Israel’s terms for exchanging this intelligence clearly specified that the information was not to be disclosed to anyone, and that failure to comply with this simple term would jeapordize our intelligence relationship with them going forward. In other words, Trump’s carelessness and brazenness might have just cost the United States an important ally, one that has inside information to the Islamic State.

“She was entrusted with some of our nation’s most important secrets, and she betrayed that trust by carelessly mishandling highly classified information.” -Paul Ryan, October 2016, Speaker of the House

Trump’s unabashed self-implicating, frightening behavior lately is reminiscent of when he boldly proclaimed that he could shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue in broad daylight and not lose voters. As a candidate, Trump used the FBI investigation against Hillary and the possiblity of her revealing of classified information as fuel for the “lock her up!” chants that came to define his rallies and even the RNC. Yet as president, Trump shows little to no remorse for his own irresponsible, audacious, and harmful behavior — and most of his Republican colleagues are indifferent. Even as Trump is (was?) investigated by the FBI, even when he revealed highly classified information to Russia, and even though he has likely lost us a critical ally in the Middle East, Republicans are silent.

Let me be clear that this is not a matter of political ideology. This is about integrity and consistency. Republicans are refusing to own their values and their history, instead opting to stand single file behind a president who goes against most of what they believe in. If, during Clinton’s investigation, then-president Barack Obama had ordered Comey’s removal, everyone — including Democrats — should have been just as horrified and hard pressed to take decisive action against the corruption. It seems Republicans were clear in their moral standing when they didn’t wield the actual power to take action, and when it wouldn’t result in wounding one of their own; but now that their words can carry the weight of action, they refuse to aim them at a target that threatens all of us (regardless of ideology): Trump.

Nora Shepard is the content manager at NewFounders, a coalition of leaders seeking to use innonvation to reconnect people and politics.