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Tucker Carlson, Josh Hawley and Donald Trump: Putin’s Dream Team, but America’s Worst Nightmare

A repulsive and depraved trio, Josh Hawley, Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump, are active partners in Putin’s efforts to gaslight the West on Ukraine – and to undermine the United States itself

David Rothkopf
David Rothkopf
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Vladmir Putin must surely be amused that his efforts to undermine the United States are actively supported by the last U.S. president and his legion of actively anti-American acolytes
Vladmir Putin must surely be amused that his efforts to undermine the United States are actively supported by the last U.S. president and his legion of actively anti-American acolytesCredit: AP Photo/Evan Vucci
David Rothkopf
David Rothkopf

Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, Harvard graduate, is currently selling mugs featuring the infamous image of him cheering on an insurrection against the government in which he serves.

It is the kind of self-own in which Trumpists foolishly revel, admitting to sedition to own the libs – at the low, low price of $20 each. Yet, stupid and odious as is Hawley’s merchandising of a brutal attack on democracy that left seven dead and 150 injured, he does have something right.

Hawley, well-educated but pathologically misguided, a man who has undermined U.S. national security by serially and without reason blocking nominees to vital posts worldwide and a regular violator of his oath of office, is – as putting his mug on a mug implies – one of the new poster boys for the most dangerous enemy America faces, the one that currently controls one of America’s two political parties.

Not only do these folks, supporters of the fraudster serial sex offender who swallowed the Republican Party, Donald Trump, actively seek to attack America’s institutions, promote disease and death, make it easier for average families to buy weapons of war, and skim from the U.S. economy to make the obscenely rich even more so, they are now following Trump in supporting his benefactor and role model, the most dangerous man in the world: Vladmir Putin.

Hawley is a pathologically misguided acolyte of Trump and an eager apologist for PutinCredit: AP Photo/Charlie Riedel

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Never mind that Putin is the Cold War equivalent of one of those Japanese soldiers found in a cave years after World War II still ready to fight for a long-gone cause. Never mind that he is taking bites out of his neighbors which resemble nothing so much as Hitler munching up Europe from the Rhineland to the Sudetenland to Austria and then Poland. Never mind that he has been overseeing wave upon wave of cyber-attacks against us. Never mind all those nukes he has.

And please, never mind the fact that he supported an effort to steal an election for Donald Trump.

No, in the middle of the worst security threat faced by the West since the Cuban Missile Crisis, an effort to weaken the west and undermine U.S. leadership that is entirely the work of Putin, Hawley is one of the most prominent members of the Trumpist legion mouthing the words the Kremlin wants them to speak and defending not the U.S., but Russia.

When Hawley embraced Putin’s line that Ukraine should not be allowed to join NATO – which is contrary to the core principles of NATO and the stated position of the U.S. and our allies – White House press secretary Jen Psaki accurately characterized it as "parroting" Russian talking points.

Hawley, of course, is not alone. (Although he did play a special role helping Russia by blocking, until just this week, the appointment of Celeste Wallander, a Russia specialist, to be assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs. Which, like his other blocks of qualified nominees, played right into the hands of America’s enemies.)

Tucker Carlson, Fox news host and cheerleader for the GOP’s increasingly morally depraved wing, asked, "Why is it disloyal to side with Russia but loyal to side with Ukraine?"

Sidestepping that the answer is that Ukraine is a democracy and our friend and Russia is committed to trying to weaken the U.S. and undermine the international order we have worked for eight decades to build, the remark would have been stunning – from anyone other than Kremlin Karlson.

He has asserted that by standing up to Russian aggression, President Biden was pushing Russia further into the arms of China and that in turn would lead to the destruction of the dollar. "We would be impoverished immediately overnight!" he ranted, irrationally.

It all begins with noted Russophile Donald Trump, of course. He has stated the crisis is strictly a European problem, implying the U.S. should not be involved. He also said, "What’s happening with Russia and Ukraine would never have happened under the Trump administration."

That may be true, actually. Because Trump came out and stated, for example, that Crimea should be part of Russia. He actively sought to draw down NATO forces in Europe. He famously embraced Putin’s line on Russia’s attacks against the U.S. over those of the U.S. intelligence community. He sought to get Russia back into the G7 and make it the G8 again (undoing post-Crimea invasion punishment for Moscow).

In 2015 when asked whether Ukraine should join NATO he said, "If it goes in, great. If it doesn’t go in, great." (Disloyalty? Stupidity? Laziness? It is always so hard to tell.)

Trump also blamed Putin’s actions on Biden, saying it was due to a lack of respect for the current president. He did not mention his slavering fanboy crush on Putin (and other strongmen). He did not mention his record of cozying up to the Russians. He did not mention that he was impeached for illegally withholding vital aid to Ukraine.

This may seem like a sideshow, just more examples of America’s far right embracing nutty views (like their opposition to sensible healthcare during a pandemic, for example). But it is more than that.

Fox news host Tucker Carlson is now full-time cheerleader for the GOP’s increasingly morally depraved, dependably pro-Putin wingCredit: Screenshot

The advocacy of the Trumpists for Putin is a part of a much broader effort on the Russian president’s part to engineer support across the west. That is why he has supported euro-skeptics in Britain and enemies of democracy like Viktor Orban (another man-crush of Carlson’s.) Those efforts are in turn tied to Putin’s cyber-attacks against the U.S., his efforts to manipulate election results in democracies worldwide, and his attacks on his neighbors like Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine from 2014 onward.

Hawley and Carlson and Trump may seem laughable or repulsive or both. (Even rock-ribbed Republicans like Senator Mitch McConnell have had the decency to acknowledge the effectiveness of the Biden administration in handling the crisis so far.)

But the GOP’s Putin apologists must also be recognized as what they are: Active participants in a broader effort to weaken the Western alliance and the U.S. in particular.

It is a mission Putin has been on his whole life, since his days as KGB officer. While the Soviet Union has fallen in the interim and his attempt to "restore Russian standing" feels much like the effort of an old man to recall his long-gone past, the Russian president soldiers on.

And while his prospects continue to dim, there is no doubt that Putin must gain comfort and perhaps some amusement from the fact that today his efforts to undermine the United States are actively supported by the last president of the United States and his legion of actively anti-American acolytes.

David Rothkopf's latest book is "Traitor: A History of Betraying America from Benedict Arnold to Donald Trump." He is also a podcast host and CEO of The Rothkopf Group. Twitter: @djrothkopf

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