The received wisdom so far has been that Paul Ryan, Mitch McConnell and the GOP rank-and-file have refused to turn on Donald Trump, even keeping a wrap as best they could on Russian interference during the election, because they want the incompetent, kleptocratic sociopath to deliver to them steep tax cuts on corporations and the highest earners.
That theory isn’t completely convincing, however. Why couldn’t a President Pence accomplish the same thing? As I suggested two months ago, it’s possible if thus far unproven, that the Kremlin tentacles reached further than just Trump’s inner circle, with money filling the coffers of other Republicans. Perhaps Ryan and McConnell are trying to prevent the entire party from collapse? It wouldn’t surprise me if Trump’s inevitable fall takes down numerous Republicans and maybe some Democrats, too.
In fact, some of this unsavory business doesn’t require a Special Prosecutor to untangle. From Ruth May’s op-ed at the Dallas Morning News:
Party loyalty is often cited as the reason that GOP leaders have not been more outspoken in their criticism of President Donald Trump and his refusal to condemn Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential election. Yet there may be another reason that top Republicans have not been more vocal in their condemnation. Perhaps it’s because they have their own links to the Russian oligarchy that they would prefer go unnoticed.
Donald Trump and the political action committees for Mitch McConnell, Marco Rubio, Scott Walker, Lindsey Graham, John Kasich and John McCain accepted $7.35 million in contributions from a Ukrainian-born oligarch who is the business partner of two of Russian president Vladimir Putin’s favorite oligarchs and a Russian government bank.
During the 2015-2016 election season, Ukrainian-born billionaire Leonid “Len” Blavatnik contributed $6.35 million to leading Republican candidates and incumbent senators. Mitch McConnell was the top recipient of Blavatnik’s donations, collecting $2.5 million for his GOP Senate Leadership Fund under the names of two of Blavatnik’s holding companies, Access Industries and AI Altep Holdings, according to Federal Election Commission documents and OpenSecrets.org.
Marco Rubio’s Conservative Solutions PAC and his Florida First Project received $1.5 million through Blavatnik’s two holding companies. Other high dollar recipients of funding from Blavatnik were PACS representing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at $1.1 million, South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham at $800,000, Ohio Governor John Kasich at $250,000 and Arizona Senator John McCain at $200,000.
In January, Quartz reported that Blavatnik donated another $1 million to Trump’s Inaugural Committee. Ironically, the shared address of Blavatnik’s companies is directly across the street from Trump Tower on 5th Avenue in New York.
Len Blavatnik, considered to be one of the richest men in Great Britain, holds dual citizenship in the U.S. and the U.K. He is known for his business savvy and generous philanthropy, but not without controversy.•