Sarah Kendzior, a writer and expert on authoritarian states, suggested in an interview on MSNBC that President Donald Trump may be using emails stolen by Russia from Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham to blackmail him.
Kendzior and host Joy Reid discussed the bizarre cabinet meeting in which Vice President Mike Pence heaped praise on the president, shortly before Republican lawmakers took turns doing the same while celebrating the passage of the Republican tax bill in front of the White House.
“Thank you for seeing through the course of this year an agenda that truly is restoring this country,” Pence told Trump. “You’ve restored American credibility on the world stage. We’re standing with our allies, we’re standing up to our enemies.”
“You signed more bills rolling back federal red tape than any president in American history. You’ve unleashed American energy. You’ve spurred an optimism in this country that’s setting records,” he continued. “I’m deeply humbled as your vice president to be able to be here. Because of your leadership and because of the strong support of the leadership of the Congress, you’re delivering on that middle class miracle.”
Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch gave similar remarks while praising Trump following the tax bill’s passage.
“Mr. President, I have to say you are living up to everything I thought you would,” Hatch said. “You are one heckuva leader, and we’re all benefiting from it.”
“We are making headway. This is just the beginning,” he continued. “If you stop and think about it, this president hasn’t even been in office for a year and look at all the things he’s been able to get done. I hope we get behind him every way we can and we’ll get this country turned around in ways that will benefit the whole world.”
“And we are going to make this the greatest presidency we have seen, not only in generations, but maybe ever,” he added.
Kendzior noted that Graham too had a huge and suspicious turnaround on Trump, going from calling Trump a “kook” to attacking the media for attempting to “label the guy some kind of kook not fit to be president.”
“The RNC was hacked,” Kendzior said. “We don’t know what happened with those e-mails. We know that Lindsey Graham’s personal e-mails were also hacked and we know that Trump has a long track record of blackmailing and threatening those who he sees as his political opponents. That goes back throughout his entire career.”
She pointed out that many Republicans have gotten millions in dark money donated by Kremlin-linked Russian nationals who now live in the United States. Graham is one of those lawmakers, she said.
“I think what concerns me most is that they seem afraid,” Kendzior said. “They seem unable to stand up for themselves. They lack all dignity.”
“Trump has berated them, he has insulted them,” she continued. “He’s often gone after their wives and their family members, saying terrible things and yet they prostrate themselves to him. What kind of leader are you? What kind of man are you?”
Watch the clip below: