In today’s Politico Playbook:
REPUBLICANS TO THE WORLD: WHAT DO YOU WANT US TO DO? There was a general consensus in the Capitol yesterday: PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP thoroughly embarrassed the United States standing next to Russian President VLADIMIR PUTIN on the world’s biggest stage….
BUT, PRIVATELY, senior-level Republican aides and lawmakers had a second message: WHAT THE HELL DO YOU WANT US TO DO?
HOLD HEARINGS? They’ve done that, they say. Nearly every Capitol Hill probe into the 2016 election showed that Putin’s Russia did, indeed, interfere in the election to boost Trump. The president chooses to ignore that.
THE REPUBLICAN CONGRESS slapped endless sanctions on Russia. They’ve sought to boost Russia’s foes, and defend NATO. That’s a pretty strong rebuke against a president of their own party.
AT THE END OF THE DAY, senior Republican aides and lawmakers told us yesterday, it’s up to the president to conduct foreign policy. The Hill can — and does — criticize and conduct oversight.
SO THE ANSWER TO THE MEDIA FEEDBACK LOOP FROM YESTERDAY: Of course, Congress is not going to do anything substantive. They have no idea what more they should be doing.
Cry me a river.
They could, oh, I dunno:
- Form a select committee on Trump-Russia.
- Pass a resolution of censure.
- Open impeachment hearings.
- Block Trump’s substantive agenda.
- Pass legislation taking away his toys, like his military parade.
- Stop using their investigative powers to provide political cover from Trump.
- Go after the rampant corruption in the Trump administration as bargaining leverage.
- Stop appearing on television to defend him.
For Republicans, the phrase “no idea what more [we] should be doing” is just another way of saying “we’re cowards who don’t want to cross the Redcaps.”