Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
Michael Steele, the former chair of the Republican National Committee, denounced the party he once led on Wednesday for rolling over and letting President Donald Trump continue to do favors for Russia despite the mounting evidence of collusion.
Steele appeared on MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber” to discuss the fact that the majority of Senate Republicans blocked a measure, supported by Democrats and a minority in their own party, to block the Trump administration’s rollback of sanctions on Russia oligarch Oleg Deripaska. The measure, already passed by the House, failed with only 57 votes because 42 Republicans were able to filibuster the move.
Deripaska is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and has become a key figure in the Russian investigation given his ties to former Trump Campaign Chair Paul Manafort. It was a remarkable move for Senate Republicans to take such defensive action for Trump on this front given recent reports finding that the FBI has opened a counterintelligence operation into the president, Trump has gone to extreme lengths to keep his communications with Putin secret, and Manafort was revealed to have given a suspected Russian agent polling data during the 2016 election.
“You look at this news today, against those other stories, and you say, ‘Wow, those senators — they don’t care,’” said Melber.
“They don’t care,” said Steele. “And that small group is the one that is still tethered very tightly to the president. And they, like I say, are circling that wagon around him, using the legislative process to slow down or gum up this information that’s clearly out on the street.”
“You’re saying part of this is potentially collusion-y? And part of it is just potentially Republican loyalty?” asked Melber.
“Well, it’s all collusion!” said Steele. “No, it’s all collusion. I mean, because, in my estimation, if you’re taking these steps given the information and the facts as we now see them being laid out? And you’re going to slow the roll legislatively? Then you’re now a part of this narrative as much as anybody else is, as far as I’m concerned.”
Watch the clip below:
“That small group is the one that is still tethered very tightly” to Trump
— TheBeat w/Ari Melber (@TheBeatWithAri) January 16, 2019