Republicans Won’t Even Criticize Trump for Gassing Protesters for a Photo Op

How hard is this to condemn?

Jay Mallin/Zuma

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On Tuesday, federal law enforcement officials gassed peaceful protesters so President Donald Trump could have a photo op. The crackdown in Washington’s Lafeyette Park earned widespread condemnation, including from former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen and from the bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Washington, but the bizarre photo op which followed, during which the president wielded someone else’s Bible as a prop (“Is that your Bible?” “It’s a Bible.”) made some Christians happy as clams.

And Republicans? Well, for the most part, they either loved the whole show, or have never heard of Donald Trump but would like everyone to know that The Left Is Bad.

“I didn’t watch it closely enough to know,” said Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah).

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) thinks the only abuse of power came from the protesters (who were exercising their First Amendment rights to free assembly). Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused, as usual, to critique the president. Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) mustered up, “Violence is scary.”

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) issued a lukewarm condemnation, saying last night’s events were “not the America that I know.”

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) defended the president’s actions, telling CNN that it would be “okay” to use force against the protesters if police expected even five percent of them to be violent. In a tweet, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) called protesters “professional agitators” who intentionally stayed out past curfew to “trigger police action.”

So far, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has called it as he saw it:

“To Trump, the Bible and the church are not symbols of faith, The Atlantic’s McKay Coppins wrote of the incident. “They are weapons of culture war.”

Tear gas is also one of those weapons. And Senate Republicans apparently wouldn’t have it any other way. 

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Minority rule, corruption, disinformation, attacks on those who dare tell the truth: There is a direct line from what's happening in Russia and Ukraine to what's happening here at home. And that's what MoJo's Monika Bauerlein writes about in "Their Fight Is Our Fight" to unpack the information war we find ourselves in and share a few examples to show why the power of independent, reader-supported journalism is such a threat to authoritarians.

Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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