August 6, 2018 | Reading Time: 3 minutes

For Republicans, a Time for Choosing

Over time, Trump supporters will be forced to choose Russia or America.

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If you blinked, you missed it. President Trump admitted Sunday that his campaign met with Kremlin operatives at Trump Tower in June 2016 to “get information on an opponent.” You read that correctly. The president actually confessed to “collusion,” which, legally speaking, means conspiracy against the United States.

This should be a turning point, according to The New Yorker’s Adam Davidson: “It ends any possibility of an alternative explanation. We can all move forward understanding that there is a clear fact pattern about which there is no dispute.”

That pattern is this.

  1. The campaign knew it was working with Russians who said they had dirt on Hillary Clinton.

  2. Russians stole documents (the “dirt”) used to move public opinion against Clinton and for Trump.

  3. Trump lied about the meeting.

  4. Trump is trying to end the investigation into the meeting and everything associated with Russia.

The Post’s Jennifer Rubin said Sunday:

“Trump fails to understand that the very meeting he is acknowledging is collusion—or conspiracy, if you will—to break campaign-finance laws. Insisting that it is legal to get dirt from a foreign national is politically and morally offensive.”

I’m guessing Rubin is referring to a trend on social media, in which the president’s defenders argue that his campaign did nothing worse than what Republican candidates, then the Clinton campaign, did when they hired a British firm to find dirt on Trump, a report that would eventually become the salacious Steele Dossier.

Let’s pause for debunking. First, Clinton’s campaign never used information found in the dossier. Second, her campaign hired British citizens, who, last I checked, are US allies. Third, these citizens were private individuals, not government agents.

But that’s not the “politically and morally offensive” part. That part is equating private citizens with agents of a government that is, in fact, a criminal enterprise aiming to undermine the global order by violating the right of Americans to choose their leader.

By blurring the line between friend and enemy, Trump’s defenders—the most offensive of whom are Sean Hannity and Tucker Carlson—legitimize something that can never be legitimate: the compromise of US sovereignty for partisan gain.

Are we at a turning point, as Davidson’s suggests? I hope so, but he’s neither the first nor the last to suggest it. We keep arriving at moments that feel like the center of gravity has moved only to be carried off to another mind-numbing moment.

That may be due to human myopia, though. History doesn’t feel historic to those living it. It feels historic mostly in retrospect. Moments we say feel like turning points might be in actuality bits of flotsam and jetsam that will accumulate over time into what will become an authentic turning point. So even if we can’t tell whether a turning point is happening right now, I think it’s reasonable to suggest it will happen.

That’s why I say we are heading, to borrow a phrase from cold warrior Ronald Reagan, into a time for choosing. Over time and given enough compelling evidence, Republicans will be forced to decide between allegiance to Russia or America.

That sounds dramatic, but there’s reason to suggest that GOP elites, and their media allies, will be forced to make the following argument, in conclusion: Yes, Trump conspired with the Kremlin to win, but so what? It saved us from Hillary.

That’s where this ends.

Consider where we’ve been. First, it was “no collusion.” Then, “everyone does it.” Later, “collusion isn’t a crime.” No one can say, precisely, what the next one will be, but it will probably have something to do with the picture above, in which Trump supporters give voice, visually speaking, to something I’ve mentioned before.

If colluding with Russia is what it takes to keep white Americans from suffering under the tyranny of a liberal majority-minority America, so be it. In saying they’d rather be Russian than Democratic, Republicans are saying they’d rather not be American.

Again, that’s where this ends.

I doubt Trump supporters understand what they are saying. Right now, they probably think they’re doing nothing more significant than “owning the libs.” But given this president and everything we know about him, it’s just a matter of time before his supporters arrive in a time for choosing. The question isn’t if but when.

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John Stoehr is the editor of the Editorial Board. He writes the daily edition. Find him @johnastoehr.

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