Joy Reid asked Sarah Kendzior, expert on authoritarian regimes, about Republicans who strongly opposed Trump, yet now flatter him.
"You wrote about Lindsey Graham explicitly, he is somebody who has admitted he was hacked by the Russians, had strong opinions of Russiagate. What are the not-so-innocent explanations for why he's changed?" Joy Reid asked.
"There's always the explanation of careerism, opportunism, that's a typical aspect of politics, we shouldn't rule that out. That can go hand in hand," Kendzior said.
"But we do know the RNC was hacked, we don't know what happened with those emails, we know that Lindsey Graham's personal emails were also hacked. And Trump has a long track record of blackmailing and threatening who he sees as his political opponents. That goes back throughout his entire career, especially in terms of his lawyers, whether Roy Cohn in the 1980s, Michael Cohen during the election.
"And so I think it's possible that some of these GOP players might be greedy and opportunistic and are also being blackmailed or threatened. There's also the issue, I think, of contamination in the sense of the Russia investigation. We know that there are a number of shady donors, a lot of dirty money, some of it stemming from Russian oligarchs who donated to the GOP campaign, and that certain individuals may not want to be investigated for their role in taking that kind of money.
"Lindsey Graham is one of those people, I think a number in the GOP are worried about that, so yeah, I think what concerns me most is that they seem afraid, the seem unable to stand up for themselves, They lack all dignity. Trump has berated them, insulted them. He's gone after their wives and family members saying terrible things, and yet they prostrate themselves to him.
"What kind of leader are you, what kind of man are you? That's something that does have me concerned."
Of course he's blackmailing them! Getting dirt on his rivals from the Russians is one of the things Christopher Steele wrote in his famous dossier. Remember?