EDITORIAL: Trump’s corrupt Roger Stone scheme cannot go unanswered by Cory Gardner, GOP

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It was a prominent Republican over the weekend who most accurately summed up the international revulsion toward one of the world’s most dishonest and repugnant leaders, President Donald Trump.

“Unprecedented, historic corruption: An American president commutes the sentence of a person convicted by a jury of lying to shield that very president,” Utah GOP Sen. Mitch Romney said in a tweet on Saturday.

He was, however, among the very few congressional Republicans with the integrity and temerity to stand up to Trump.

Predictably, Colorado GOP Sen. Cory Gardner has so far been silent to Trump’s coup de grace. It’s a pattern Gardner has adopted as policy: Avoid rebuking the president in exchange for Trump’s support and that of his fans. It’s anathema to what we need to protect the nation from this president.

Over the weekend, issuing more in a serious diversionary social media posts on his “bipartisan” achievements, Gardner only highlighted his own complicity and unshakable fidelity to Trump, ignoring this ultimate act of corruption. 

Romney was referring to Trump’s astonishing decision to pardon fellow crony Roger Stone, one of a handful of convicted felons who helped the Trump campaign collaborate with foreign groups and governments or worked to hide, obfuscate and obstruct investigations into their crimes and chicanery.

It would seem nearly impossible for this president to make worse the sordid reputation he has destroyed with his flagrant racism, constant lying, spectacular malfeasance in handling the COVID-19 pandemic and all matters of foreign policy.

While Trump regularly disappoints, he never fails to surprise.

Despite a mountain of reasons begging for rebuke by members of Congress, the public and, ultimately, voters, this single stunning act of corruption cannot be allowed to just fade into all the rest.

A longtime Trump friend and informal adviser, Stone boasted during Trump’s campaign that he was in contact with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange through a trusted intermediary and hinted at inside knowledge of WikiLeaks’ plans to release more than 19,000 emails hacked from the servers of the Democratic National Committee, according to the Associated Press. Stone was convicted of lying to federal prosecutors to protect Trump and for trying to scuttle an investigation into the Wikileaks case and other aspects of the Trump campaign’s Russia scandal. 

Predictably, Trump tweeted out a lie in his own defense.

“Roger Stone was targeted by an illegal Witch Hunt that never should have taken place,” Trump tweeted. “It is the other side that are criminals, including Biden and Obama, who spied on my campaign – AND GOT CAUGHT!”

There is no evidence to any of the claims. 

The allegations were so beyond the pale that former FBI Director and Russia scandal prosecutor Robert Mueller issued a rare scathing opinion in the Washington Post on Saturday.

“Stone was prosecuted and convicted because he committed federal crimes,” Mueller wrote. “He remains a convicted felon, and rightly so.”

Now, the nation looks to Congress to protect us from Trump, arguably the most corrupt man to hold the office of president. Besides Romney and smattering of Congressional Republicans courageous enough to draw Trump’s wrath at criticism, elected members of the GOP have chosen, again, to become silently complicit.

Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of North Carolina actually defended Trump, saying Stone committed a “nonviolent, first-time offense” and the president was “justified” in commuting the sentence, according to the Associated Press.

Even in the midst of debilitating partisanship and polarization, congressional Democrats and Republicans, and voters of every stripe must draw a line with Trump and this dangerous scam. The nation must suffer Trump’s presidency for almost six more months. Polls showing clearly that Americans have finally had enough.

Collectively, we must signal that we will protect the interests of the nation from Trump and his cronies as his term nears its end. Gardner should start the chorus.