Trump Critics and Russia Hawks Have Change of Heart

Lindsey Graham and Rand Paul were once clear-eyed about Donald Trump and Russia. What changed?

Republican senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and his wife, Kelley, visit Knoxville, Iowa, January 29, 2016
Republican senator Rand Paul of Kentucky and his wife, Kelley, visit Knoxville, Iowa, January 29, 2016 (Gage Skidmore)

Two of Donald Trump’s fiercest Republican critics have suddenly taking a liking to the president — and with it, come around to his views on Russia.

  • Lindsey Graham once warned the Republican Party would be “destroyed” if it nominated Trump, cautioned the president against removing Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has recused himself from the Russia investigation, and dismissed his incendiary rhetoric about a deep-state conspiracy against him. Now Graham believes Trump should fire Sessions. He dismisses allegations that Trump colluded with Russia to swing the 2016 election in his favor and agrees with the president that there is “corruption” in the Justice Department and FBI.
  • Rand Paul once said “a speck of dirt” was more qualified to become president than Trump and called on his predecessor, Barack Obama, to “isolate Russia as a rogue nation” after it annexed the Crimea from Ukraine. Now he carries Trump’s water and argues for lifting sanctions. For details, read The American Interest and The New York Times.

Is this simply a case of two more Republicans catching the Trump virus?