There was a lot of crazy stuff said in last night’s Virginia GOP U.S. Senate debate at Liberty “University” between Nick Freitas, Corey Stewart and E.W. Jackson (For video and my live blog of the event, click here). But in all the welter of crazy talk, lies, far-right-echo-chamber talking points, etc., I think it’s very important that a couple things don’t get overlooked.
First off, special counsel Robert Mueller. Earlier this week, the Washington Post had a story about how “Republican Senate candidates in competitive primary races have begun to call for an end to the special counsel’s investigation of Russian tampering in the 2016 election, breaking from congressional GOP leaders.” For instance, “In Mississippi, state Sen. Chris McDaniel said the probe should be ‘expedited,’ though he stopped short of calling on Trump to try to fire anyone to short-circuit the probe.” And in Nevada, Sen. Dean Heller said “that he does not want the president to fire Mueller, though he hopes the probe wraps up soon.” Etc. So basically, even a hard-right Republican like Chris McDaniel in Mississippi, while not happy with the Mueller probe, doesn’t want it “short-circuited.”
Compare that to the completely off-the-deep-end Virginia Republican U.S. Senate candidates. Let’s hear what they had to say last night about Robert Mueller and his investigation.
Corey Stewart: “He’s way beyond, he’s on a fishing expedition…to undermine the President of the United States. Because they could not defeat him at the polls in 2016, now Democrats and even a lot of Republicans are trying to use every single thing they can do to try to undermine the President of the United States. And in doing so, they’re not just undermining President Trump, they’re undermining our country. This thing needs to be put to bed. And let me just add this…all this corrupt garbage that’s going on by Democrats to undermine the president – creating the dossier, funded by President Trump’s opponents and then fed to the FBI. They’re all Virginians, they’re all Democrats from Virginia – McCabe, McAuliffe, all of them. And if you think for one moment that Kaine’s not involved with that, you’re wrong, and it’s going to come out before this election.”
E.W. Jackson: “Well, they’re not trying to undermine the president, they’re trying to overthrow the president…They have not accepted the outcome of the election, and they want to undo it…”
Nick Freitas: “…one of the things I always talk about is one of the promises of this country is equal protection before the law; everybody is entitled to due process. to include the President the United States. And I think one of the most dangerous things that I believe Mueller and Comey have done at this point is they’re really causing Americans to question the integrity of our justice system. That the justice system means one thing for one group of Americans and one thing for a different group of Americans…I think this has turned into a major fishing expedition. This is an attempt to undermine the presidency. And again, the president just like anyone else in this room is entitled to due process before the law, and I think we’re getting really close to him being denied that.”
In sum, all three Virginia Republican U.S. Senate candidates completely fail to support Robert Mueller independent investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and possible ties between Trump’s campaign and the Russian government. Worse than that, they actively ATTACK Mueller and, de facto, the rule of law in this country, effectively undermining both. To put it mildly, that is very, very dangerous stuff that should be unacceptable to every Virginia voter, regardless of political persuasion.
Second, check out the Republican candidates’ (non)responses regarding Russia’s meddling in the 2016 elections, as well as the possibility (likelihood?) that Russia will do this again in 2018 and beyond.
Nick Freitas: “I think this idea that the press suddenly has, that foreign nations try to meddle in our elections as if this is something new or just happening during the Trump administration is absurd. Ted Kennedy, who tried to directly collude with the Soviet Union in order to try to defeat Ronald Reagan, that is obstruction, that is something that should be investigated, when a US official actually colludes with the foreign government. And yes, the State Department should try to push back against any sort of foreign meddling in our elections. But let’s not pretend that this is new or something unique that has tried to happen; foreign governments have always tried to meddle in our elections. That’s why we need to be free, open and transparent in everything we do. It’s also one of the reasons why we need to protect the integrity of our elections. But every time we do try to protect the vote, every time we do try to come up with the most simplest [sic] and commonsense methods to ensure that the only people that are truly deciding our elections are American citizens, the Democrats are right there to thwart every single effort that we make. And they call us racists in the process. So if they’re really serious about protecting the integrity of US elections, then protect the integrity of the ballot box.”
EW Jackson: “Well I find it ironic that people who believe that somehow a voter ID is a racist idea intended to deny minorities the opportunity to vote, which I find in and of itself racist and condescending, because what they’re really saying is that Americans of European descent can manage to have an ID so they can vote, but somehow Americans of African descent or some other ethnic minority somehow they can’t quite figure it out. I’ve never had any problem figuring out how to get an ID. I mean, it’s preposterous on its face, and yet these are the people who now want to tell us about Russia meddling in the election. Now look, we ought to take that seriously, yes. But I don’t want to hear that from Hillary Clinton when she was busy selling our uranium mines to a foreign country so that she could enrich herself. I’ll leave that to this president; I’m sure that he will get to the bottom of it and do what’s necessary to protect the integrity of our electoral process.”
Corey Stewart: “So in Virginia, we have a real problem; there’s no question whatsoever that there was voter fraud occurring in the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2017 and probably before that. There’s no requirement to demonstrate that you’re a citizen of the United States before you register to vote. In fact, you know the Democrats, one of the things they’ve been doing in Northern Virginia in particular in my county, and that is that they’ve been requesting absentee ballots, it doesn’t require a signature, requires no identification whatsoever. And I’m going to be asking President Trump to send the Department of Justice into the Commonwealth of Virginia to investigate these voting irregularities. And I’m also going to be calling on the various prosecutors in the state to root it out and to prosecute anybody who votes, who does not have the authorization to vote, anybody who votes and is not a citizen of the United States.”
Yep: three candidates, three word-salad, conspiracy-theory-laden, nonsensical non-answers that don’t in any way/shape/form take seriously the threat posed by Russia’s meddling in our elections. Instead, these candidates yammer on about mythical “voter fraud,” Hillary Clinton, Ted Kennedy (???), racism, and basically anything BUT giving a direct or serious response to the important question. Right there, that should disqualify all three of these guys.
By the way, after the moderator followed up and tried to get the candidates to actually address the question (about Russia interfering with our election), they doubled down, with Corey Stewart quipping, “I think it’s a bunch of bollocks. That’s the answer to that.” As for Jackson and Freitas, their responses were utterly worthless — “I stand on my answer and “I addressed the question.”
Again, just on the responses to these two questions alone, it is crystal clear that no Virginia voter should even CONSIDER voting for Freitas, Stewart or Jackson in November. Forget conservative vs. liberal, Republican vs. Democrat; these guys are both extreme and non-serious individuals who have no business being in the U.S. Senate, or frankly any elective office in this country.