Russia’s Fifth Column in the U.S. Congress

What would you think if I told you that there are Republican members of the United States Congress who are working on behalf of Vladimir Putin and the Russian government to undermine our democracy and create chaos in our political process? Would you think I was crazy? Would you write off my claims as “lies from the left?” Would you say I’m lying to try to damage Republicans? Would you accuse me of Trump Derangement Syndrome?

I have good news. You don’t have to believe me. In fact, I’m not the one making these charges. The charges are being made by two high-ranking Republican Congressmen, and their accusations are not getting nearly enough attention.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, in an interview with Puck News, charged that Russian propaganda had “infected a good chuck of my party’s base.” He went on to blame conservative media–like Fox News–for spreading Russian talking points.

Rep. Michael Turner (R-OH), Chair of the House Select Committee on Intelligence, echoed McCaul’s concerns. “We see directly coming from Russia attempts to mask communications that are anti-Ukraine and pro-Russia messages — some of which we even hear being uttered on the House floor,” Turner said.

Such a charge, particularly coming from a Republican talking about his own party, is huge news. When he was pressed about the charges he leveled, Turner doubled down, saying that it was “absolutely true” that some members of the Republican Party were repeating Russian propaganda on the floor of the House, as well as in comments they’ve made on TV, in interviews, and on social media.

Neither McCaul nor Turner pointed the finger at any single member of the Republican Party, but it isn’t too hard to figure out who they are likely talking about. Members of the House Freedom Caucus, including Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) and Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), have often repeated Russian propaganda. In the Senate, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH), and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY)* have also been known to parrot Russian talking points.

But no one has spread more Russian propaganda in recent months that Rep. Marjorie Taylor Green (R-GA). In the past, MTG has blamed the United States for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. More recently, she posted the following message on X (formerly Twitter):

“Why doesn’t anyone in Washington talk about a peace treaty with Russia?? A deal with Putin promising he will not continue any further invasions. Answer: Washington wants war, not peace.”

She followed up that message with an accusation that Ukraine has been attacking Christians and Christian churches, while the Russians have been protecting both. This was a lie. In fact, according to Christianity Today magazine, since they first invaded Ukraine, Russia has destroyed more than 500 religious sites inside Ukraine, one-third of them Christian. In addition, within their own borders, Russia routinely persecutes members of non-Christian religions, as well as Christian denominations other than the Russian Orthodox Church.

MTG has also led the charge to deny funding to Ukraine. Last week, she indicated that she would file a motion to vacate to unseat Speaker Mike Johnson (R-LA) if Johnson allows a vote on Ukraine funding to take place. She seems to be getting increasingly desperate to stand in the way of funding for Ukraine, and her efforts have earned her the nickname, “Moscow Marjorie” from another Republican, former Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO).

In an article published in The New Republic, former CIA officer Alex Finley had this to say about MTG and her seeming constant verbal attacks on Ukraine:

“It is naïve to think the same pattern does not exist in the United States, given the ample evidence of coordinated pro-Russian talking points from several Republican politicians. Just this week, Marjorie Taylor Greene spoke to Steve Bannon about Ukraine’s persecution of Christians, which is a Kremlin talking point aimed at boosting the pro-Moscow wing of Ukraine’s Orthodox Church. The U.S. should be spending money on the border with Mexico, not on Ukraine aid? That’s a Kremlin talking point. Russia invaded Ukraine to defend itself against an expanding NATO? That’s a Kremlin talking point. Call for a cease-fire, and give Russia Crimea and eastern Ukraine? That’s a Kremlin talking point.”

Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-WI) made a career out of accusing people of being communists. But even he never claimed that members of Congress had been infected by Russian propaganda. McCarthyism and the Red Scare was a huge deal in the 1950s, and it received a tremendous amount of coverage on TV and radio, as well as in newspapers and magazines. By contrast, the more serious charges being leveled by Reps. McCaul and Turner against members of their own party have gotten relatively little attention.

To my mind, this is a travesty. How can we trust our Representatives in Congress to look out for the best interests of the nation if they are credibly accused of working on behalf of other nations, particularly nations we view as enemies? Is there a more important issue taking place in the United States today? Shouldn’t this be a much bigger story?

I hope some in the media will latch onto this story and determine who in Congress has been infected by Russian propaganda and what those members spouting Russian talking points are getting in return, if anything, for their efforts on behalf of Vladimir Putin and the Kremlin. U.S. citizens deserve to know where the loyalty of their elected representatives truly lie.

*In 2017, Sen John McCain (R-AZ) accused Sen Rand Paul (R-KY) of working, not for the people of Kentucky, but for Vladimir Putin.


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