The venerable Grand Old Party has apparently been taken over by opportunists and slavish acolytes of the Trump Cult. Certainly it seems that way, given Republicans’ willingness to buy into the conspiracy theory that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

American intelligence agencies reached a unanimous conclusion that Vladimir Putin’s Russia attacked the election with a multi-pronged disinformation campaign that boosted the candidacy of President Donald Trump and undercut Hillary Clinton, the Democratic nominee. Those intelligence agencies have also now reported that Putin tried to deflect blame for the election interference by putting out the false story that it was Ukraine, not Russia, that tried to subvert American democracy.

But Trump, in an unceasing campaign against any suggestion that his victory was tainted, embraced the Russian propaganda, eventually following that false trail into the shady shenanigans that now have him facing impeachment. Republicans – almost all of whom disdained and derided Trump when he first announced his run for president back in 2015 – are, to their shame, buying in on Putin’s bogus conspiracy story in order to support the president.

Rather than face difficult truths about the actions of the president, congressional Republicans are undermining the fledgling democracy in Ukraine and letting the autocrat in Moscow get away with his big lies. In doing so, they betray the legacy of Republican presidents from Eisenhower to Bush, and, most especially, of the man they claim as their hero, Ronald Reagan.

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