Back when this whole impeachment thing was still in its opening stages, the Senate Intelligence Committee looked like the one committee of the Republican majority Congress that actually lived up to its name. The oversight committees oversaw nothing, and the judiciary committees were extremely injudicious in implanting larval Scalias all over the federal bench. But Republican chairman Richard Burr and ranking Democratic member Mark Warner seemed to get along just fine, and the hearings they ran actually were, well, intelligent. I began to wonder if Burr might not be the influential Republican for whom everybody was looking—the legislator with enough institutional clout to step out against the administration* as an independent mind.
Well, that was then.
On Monday, Burr gave an interview to NBC News’s Frank Thorp and it became plain quite quickly that, sometime between then and now, Burr had fallen asleep dangerously close to one of the president*’s pods. Thorp put a great deal of the interview up on the electric Twitter machine. It read as something sadly familiar to anyone who has watched the abject surrender of the Republican Party and the echoing moral and ethical emptiness of modern conservatism.
Senate Intel Committee Chairman @SenatorBurr: "Every elected official in the Ukraine was for Hillary Clinton. Is that very different than the Russians being for Donald Trump?"
"You considered Russia meddling with just the preference they had before you knew the rest of it. Apply the same standard to Ukraine. The President can say that they meddled because they had a preference, the elected officials, that's not the current people.”
Q: Is there any evidence that Ukraine meddled in the 2016 election? BURR: I don’t think there’s any question that elected officials in Ukraine had a favorite in the election.
Q: Would you consider that meddling? BURR: I mean, you’ll have to define meddling, but that was something that was publicly out there.
The interview concluded with a long passage in which Burr does some tap-dancing that would have shamed the Nicholas Brothers.
And the interview itself is even more preposterous given the news that the very committee that Burr chairs already has dismissed the whole Ukrainian fantasy has groundless. From CNN:
The committee looked into any possible Ukrainian interference because -- as committee Chairman Sen. Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, told reporters on October 4, 2017 -- the investigation was to look into a number of measures, including "any collusion by either campaign during the 2016 elections."
Twelve days after he said that, sources tell CNN, Chalupa met with staffers on the committee for a more-than-two-hour meeting covering a range of subjects, including why she was so alarmed in 2016 to learn that candidate Donald Trump had hired Paul Manafort, who worked with corrupt Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych.
Chalupa was never called back before the committee and investigators considered the matter closed, sources say. Chalupa could not be reached for comment.
Burr told CNN that some officials from Ukraine actively supported Hillary Clinton but "I don't think anybody interfered in the same way Russia did."
Even Burr now is parroting the absurd notion that a preference for Hillary Rodham Clinton on the part of the Ukrainian leadership in 2016—a preference they shared with practically every other government on the planet, then and now—is somehow mysteriously equivalent to the Russian ratfcking. They’re all lost now, amazingly so. It will confound future historians, who will wander through whatever’s left, kicking the rubble ahead of them and wondering how everybody had been so easily turned.
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