#NeverTrump Republicans laugh and sigh over Donald Trump's damning Russia report

#NeverTrump Republicans laugh and sigh over Donald Trump's damning Russia report
Source: Getty Images
Source: Getty Images

They had to laugh — mostly to keep from crying.

Some of the Republican stalwarts who opposed Donald Trump on his bumpy road to the presidency expressed sharply mixed emotions on Tuesday, after allegations emerged that Russia spent years collecting damaging information on the Manhattan mogul. The explosive allegations come just ten days before Trump assumes the Oval Office on Jan. 20. 

"I'm amused and I'm feeling a little bit of vindication right now," said Rick Wilson, a Florida-based strategist who fought against Trump's nomination by backing Sen. Marco Rubio in the GOP primary, and then pushing independent longshot Evan McMullin in the general.

"A bunch of us [knew] about the relationship Trump had with the Russians [via] the intelligence community and from contacts that we all had and from research from a year and a half ago," Wilson said in a phone interview. 

People in the know "all stood against him and now look, here it is."

Trump, on Twitter, shrugged off the reports. "Fake news," he wrote with all-caps emphasis. "A total political witch hunt!"

Michael Cohen, special counsel to Trump, told Mic in an interview that the entire story was "fake news" — using the same phrase as the president-elect, well before the tweet was issued. 

"What can we do about it?" Cohen asked. "We speak to journalists like yourself who call and inquire [about] this what should we call it, this fictitious story, this fake news report, and we provide what we always provide: honest answers."

Wilson said he and others had tried in vain to expose information demonstrating Trump had questionable ties to Russia. The allegations, however, never stuck. 

In the end, Wilson said, the president-elect wound up hurting himself anyway by questioning official contentions that Russia wanted to interfere with the 2016 presidential election.


"This guy is going to be president," Wilson said with a sighing resignation in his voice. "He's just never going to have a press conference, and he's just going to have big rallies and try to make America wet again."

McMullin, the Utahan who positioned himself as a conservative alternative to Trump-wary voters, told Mic late Tuesday he "had heard about this before I got into the campaign and it was one of many reasons that I decided to get in, and I'd hoped that it would come out during the campaign, but better late than never."

The former CIA operative said the information in the dossier — including descriptions of Trump being filmed engaging in sexual acts in a hotel room — "is consistent with what the Russians do" in terms of espionage or blackmail.

Even if the salacious details proved untrue, McMullin stressed, it's Trump's consistent flattery of Russia's Vladimir Putin that he finds truly unsettling.

"I feel like people don't understand or people are somehow overlooking how incredible and dangerous that is," McMullin said. "It's certainly abnormal. You have to ask yourself, 'Why would an American politician continue to defend an adversary to America even as it attacks us?'"

While it's highly unlikely Trump will be derailed on his path to the White House, McMullin added, "I think from now on, [at] the very least when people see and hear [Trump] defending Moscow when it makes no sense to do [so], they'll have this in the back of their minds."

Cheri Jacobus, a GOP consultant who tangled at length with Team Trump, also took to Twitter Tuesday night.

"Get it all out there now so that Trump is not able to be blackmailed," Jacobus wrote. "He'll sell us out in a heartbeat."

Jacobus also noted the Trump drama was unfolding as outgoing President Barack Obama was delivering his farewell address in his hometown of Chicago.


"Never in a million years thought I'd say this," Jacobus wrote of Obama, "but I'll miss him."