A conservative magazine is slamming Republicans for showing a lack of scrutiny toward President TrumpDonald TrumpHillicon Valley — State Dept. employees targets of spyware Ohio Republican Party meeting ends abruptly over anti-DeWine protesters Jan. 6 panel faces new test as first witness pleads the Fifth MORE and his administration over their shifting stories on the 2016 Trump Tower meeting between a Russian lawyer and Trump campaign officials.
"Republicans ought to be castigating the president over the Trump Tower meeting, not covering for him," The Weekly Standard wrote in a searing editorial published Friday.
"Even if they support him more broadly. And what would it cost them? Nothing," the editorial board wrote. "They could say, 'While the meeting does not appear to have been illegal, it was unethical and has no place in American politics. Trump and his campaign were wrong to do it and should be ashamed of it.' You can say that and still support the president, still want to vote for him in 2020, still want The Wall."
The editorial draws on a number of statements that Trump and his associates have made about a 2016 meeting between his campaign officials and a Russian lawyer promising to offer damaging information on Democratic presidential candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonRepublican Ohio Senate candidate slams JD Vance over previous Trump comments Budowsky: Why GOP donors flock to Manchin and Sinema Countering the ongoing Republican delusion MORE.
The Standard's editorial board notes how, as late as July 2017, the president's son, Donald Trump Jr.Don TrumpCourt orders release of some redacted passages of Mueller report How Trump uses fundraising emails to remain undisputed leader of the GOP Donald Trump Jr. joins Cameo MORE, insisted that the meeting was about adoptions. That story, however, shifted, according to the board, who said it was "meant to mislead."
"It may be true, as the president insists, that 'zero happened from the meeting,' " the board wrote. "But the more relevant fact is that the eldest son of the Republican nominee sought information from a foreign adversary for the purposes of affecting the outcome of a U.S. presidential election."
The editorial blasts Trump surrogates, as well as Republicans in office, for their "nothing-to-see-here-folks" routine regarding the matter, adding that "once upon a time, conservatives were keenly aware of the importance of norms."
The board concluded that GOP lawmakers will "come to regret their new 'anything goes' rationalization" of the Trump Tower meeting and the Trump administration's shifting rhetoric about the meeting.
"But the fact that Trump and his closest advisers were keen to get their hands on opposition research generated by America’s greatest foreign adversary is no big deal for Republicans," the Standard writes. "How far we’ve come in just two years."